One of the regular highlights on the student calendar, the annual ‘Vensters’ event recently took place at the Welcoming week for new students at Stellenbosch University (SU). This event, providing new students with a platform to entertain audiences with their very own original performances, sold 15 000 tickets and was attended by around 25 000 people.
Previously known to be a somewhat riotous occasion involving considerable consumption of alcohol, the Vensters event has been reconceptualised in a number of important ways. Primary amongst these is the strong focus of performances and fundraising on social impact projects that connect the University and surrounding communities. These projects fall within the themes of Education for All; Employment & Inclusive Economic Development; Environment & Sustainability; Food Security & Health; Resources & Infrastructure; Safety, Security & Good Governance; and Social & Gender Justice.
Demonstrating this shift in focus, Vensters festival winners from Metanoia and Academia residences said their performance was greatly influenced by the fact that they addressed issues which mattered to students and the community as a whole.
Student mentor Van Wyk Venter, said: “We believe that we need to address important issues, including matters such as alcohol abuse and the Cape water crisis, which are imperative for students to take note of in order for them to play their part in possibly solving such problems.”
This year’s ‘Vensters’ also boasted a street festival in Victoria Street, where Stellenbosch community members and students were offered the opportunity to run market stalls or showcase their talents through various performances.
Ferdi van Dyk, Administrative Officer at the Centre for Student Leadership and Structures, emphasised the importance of the relationships with stallholders and the wider community: “One thing that was key to this year’s Vensters, was building relationships with the community and positioning the event for future growth through established relationships.” The street festival also placed strong emphasis on safety, involving the town’s SAPS in joint surveillance with campus security.
The event generated R150 000 profit that will be used to fund the residences’ social impact projects.