Over the last three days, six of UKZN’s MECS students, along with their lecturer and mentor, Dr Nicola Jones, presented their research at the South African Communication Association Conference in Potchefstroom. Of the six students, five were presenting the findings of their Honours projects as part of SACOMM’s emerging scholars’ stream, while the only PhD student, Sandra Pitcher, presented a competitive paper, based on her thesis, which she hopes to be published after the conference.
All students’ work has been well-received, with both Merusha Naidoo and Claire Keyworth featured in the SACOMM 40th anniversary newsletter as key up-and-coming academics. Keyworth was excited that her work on Disney princesses was appreciated, while Naidoo was humble in the admiration garnered by her controversial paper on Oscar Pistorius.
The response from the audience to Mellisa Muchena’s paper, on students’ use of news on Facebook, generated some of the most interesting discussions from the emerging scholars section, and was approached afterwards by several students and lecturers to continue learning about her project; while Amil Umraw’s cool and professional approach to one of the most serious issues of the conference, the representation of domestic violence, was a mature and elegant presentation.
However, the most entertaining of all the students’ presentations was saved for last when Warwick Jones presented his paper on the representation of masculinity on the dating site Only Lads. Jones, not only impressed the audience with his deep theoretical approach and understanding, but also his amusing oratory performance.
Overall, MECS UKZN have been a resounding success at the 40th anniversary of South Africa’s most pretigious academic communication conference.
On Monday, Dr Nicola Jones left with five of MECS’ top Honours students for the South African Communication Association’s annual conference in Potchefstroom. They, along with PhD candidate, Sandra Pitcher, have all been accepted to present at this year’s conference.
The group spent most of Monday travelling, the 8 and a half hour trip, on dirt roads across the Free State, stopping every so often so that Dr Jones was able to point out important South African landmarks such as Wagon’s Drift Dam and the vast farmlands that supply our country’s economy.
However, the students also gave Dr Jones a few lessons on technology as they converted their mini-bus’ backseat into a mobile UNO card playing table and pointed out the special reflectors contained in the Free State’s cat’s eyes.
Dr Jones, who was selected to present two papers, has also been invited to contribute to a special panel discussion on self-expression and the media.
Yesterday, Merusha Naidoo and Amil Umraw debuted their papers for the UKZN contingent to much success. A report of their performance will be published soon.
Earlier today, students from the MECS 3rd year class joined approximately 60 other UKZN students in a demonstration to highlight their anger at an alleged rape that occurred in the Old Main Building bathroom on Friday morning.
The students, who self-organised the protest over social media, stated that they wanted the public and the University community to know that they were disgusted at the alleged crime and that they would do everything in their power to help make UKZN PMB a safe learning environment once again.
When John Muwema, a third year MECS student, was asked why he had joined in the demonstration, he remarked that it was important that men took a front role in opposing rape.
“We cannot call ourselves gentlemen if we do not stand up for women”, Muwema said emphatically.