Increasing membership and developing a pool of young leaders to succeed the existing senior members of a struggling society are amongst the biggest challenges facing recently elected Dis-Maties Chairperson Bongani Mapumulo.
Mapumulo said the society needs “to understand the main purpose of the society, where it comes from and why it was established.” He stated that the greatest challenge facing Dis-Maties in the short term would be creating a unified front or a sense of spirit inside of the committee itself.
Many members voiced their concern that the leaving members would leave a membership vacuum. “I think sustainability should be a major concern,” said newly elected vice-chair Karien Joubert. She was referring to the members of Dis-Maties, many of whom will soon graduate and leave the university. This membership vacuum places the society at risk of collapsing.
Joubert said that communication in the broader sense is required between the executive and the members. She added that more effort should go into the marketing of events. Joubert said that all the other events require the same level of marketing as the well-known Dinner in the Dark event. Mapumulo echoed this saying, “the Dis-Maties brand needs to be more out there.”
Mapumulo acknowledged that the challenge would not be an easy one to address. He said he would engage with the rest of the committee to find a solution, adding that it is a team responsibility to recruit new members.
One of the great disappointments of the year was an event held on Tygerberg Campus. The event had zero attendance. Outgoing chairperson Luigia Nicholas said: “I arranged an event with the SRC representative on the campus and not even the rest of the SRC showed up.” Nicholas says that it appears that on the campus if an event doesn’t involve students directly then they don’t attend.
The society hopes to start a branch of Dis-Maties on the campus as the medical campus members felt that it is of utmost importance that the students are educated about disability and interacting with disabled individuals.
At the moment the committee is only made up of a chairperson and vice-chairperson. This leaves the majority of the committee positions, including treasurer, vacant. Should the role of treasurer not be filled, the vice-chair would inherit the responsibilities of this role. Dis-Maties will be working with their members to fill these vacant positions. Mapumulo and Joubert were elected at the Dis-Maties Annual General Meeting this past Wednesday 16 August 2017. -Aydn Parrott and Dylan Jack