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Student life in 2020: ‘The time is now’

by 6 Mar 2020Culture

The way students unwind and interact at the Creative Academy has received a fresh jolt of energy for 2020. That’s thanks to welcoming new student spaces and a raft of exciting initiatives from the SRC. Think events on campus, programmes to upskill and a student-driven Instagram account. It’s student life 2.0.

Fancy yourself the next Frida Kahlo, Ai Wei Wei, Vincent van Gogh or Steve Jobs? Well, students at the Creative Academy can claim that status from day one. It’s courtesy of a new Instagram face filter that assigns you the identity of a famous designer or artist.

The filter is just one aspect of a vibrant programme proposed by the Creative Academy’s Student Representative Council (SRC) for 2020. The goal? To put creativity at the centre of student life and forge a community of student creatives.

Building a creative student community

In the hallways of the Creative Academy you’ll find not only students from across South Africa, but also from beyond the country’s borders. For this reason, the SRC wants to do more to create a sense of belonging. “What we want is for students to feel that there is a community within the university for them to relate to. It’s about creating a more holistic environment,” says Ben Levin of the SRC.

This year students at the Creative Academy can get involved in activities ranging from photography club to LGBTQ+ society. “Part of being the Student Representative Council is hearing what the students want,” says Ben. “And in our first responses we got really great ideas for more societies and clubs, like wellness club, and these have also been added to the line-up.”

Want to sign up for a club or society? Go to linktree/creativeacademy.now

In addition to social events, the SRC will be introducing monthly in-house tutorials – a chance to brush up on specific skills. “We’re offering an opportunity for students to enrich themselves in whatever topic they’re interested in. The tutorials will be taught by both lecturers and students,” says Ben. Students will have the chance to suggest topics and whichever gets the most votes from the student body will be offered. Think of it as a master class to take your creative skills to the next level.

The in-house tutorials will complement the regular Wednesday Lectures, when guest speakers tackle a range of topics. “These lectures are open to everybody – all the years and disciplines are encouraged to attend. Even if you don’t do a specific degree, you’re still getting incredible industry insight and seeing top-level work.”

Student work front and centre

One thing that’s really important to the SRC is helping students realise their creative potential from the get-go. To that end they are making a point of putting student work up. As SRC member Hana Jayne Sho explains, “If you don’t see the work that the students ahead of you are doing, you don’t understand what level you should be at. There’s no trajectory.” But with student work on display, incoming students have a clear standard to which they can aspire.

And it’s not just about posting designs and artwork around campus either. “What we’ve done is set up a new Instagram account that specifically focuses on the work of students. It’s not just focusing on work that students have done in the university, but work they’ve done in general. The idea is to capture the creative energy of students at the Creative Academy,” says Ben.

“What we want to encourage is this idea of even though you’re studying, you’re already a creative person. Students need to realise that their careers can start right now, they just need to equip themselves with the right skills and have enough confidence to put themselves out there.”

The Student Representative Council for 2020 is determined to put creativity at the heart of all student activities. Back row left to right: Jenna Venter (3rd year Interaction Design), Bradley Williams (2nd year Contemporary Art), Carlos Come (3rd year Motion Design), Klara Ackerman (3rd year Motion Design). Front row left to right: Hana Sho (3rd year Motion Design), Ben Levin (2nd year Interaction Design) and Nazeer Jappie (3rd year Contemporary Art). Not pictured: Luke van Rensburg (3rd year Motion Design) 

Keeping in touch

To see what exciting things Creative Academy students are getting up to, go to @creativeacademynow on Instagram for a preview. The Insta account is one way for students to reach out to the SRC, but they can also email src@ctca.co.za. What’s more, the student portal has been completely rebuilt and Google Classroom is now the way for students to interact. “And, of course, students can reach out to us personally,” confirm Ben, Hana and Nazeer Jappie of the SRC.

It’s this close contact that excites the members of the SRC for the year ahead. “At a big university, you’re a blip in 10,000 people. The way you can get a message across and have it heard in the same way by every single student is near impossible. But with the Creative Academy’s tight community, we’re able to have a vision and realise it in a way which is heard by everyone almost instantly,” says Ben.

Another project for the Instagram account is a series of design competitions, intended to build a sense of healthy competition. “We want to start off with a competition for Creative Academy apparel. We don’t have any university merchandise, so we want to say to the students, ‘You’re creative, you can design this for us.’”

Fresh spaces for students

To set the scene for 2020, the Creative Academy has made large-scale changes to student spaces. On the fourth floor students are now greeted by plush couches and tables and chairs companionably grouped together. There is art on the walls and plants bring touches of greenery to the industrial look. The effect is that of a chill lounge, of the kind you’d find at an ad agency or tech start-up.

The open-plan area is anchored at one end by the counter and display shelves of the student canteen. While Woodstock is known for its trendy eateries and coffee shops, you can’t argue with the convenience of grabbing a bite on campus. The new student canteen sells a variety of things to keep the creative process fuelled: fresh fruit, muffins, sandwiches and salads. Not to forget the coffee, served in mugs rather than paper cups in a bid to be sustainable.

The natural light and openness of the student lounge make it an inviting space where students can connect in between sessions and after class. “We’d like to introduce some more music around campus as well. And having the space to play that music, to create that environment in the student lounge, will be really cool,” says Ben.

Student life here and now

There’s no doubt that the SRC’s plans will make for an exciting year and stimulating student life. Their vision is bold – and ambitious. Will they be able to carry it off?

If their running of Orientation Week is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes. Between the SRC members, they planned the activities, drew up the week’s schedule and created all the collateral, from name tags to the week’s programme. “I really learnt what project management entails,” says Hana.

Throughout the week first years got involved in activities that not only got them to know each other, but also what studying at the Creative Academy involves. They had their first stab at motion design, created zines and worked together on a large mural. The week culminated in a surprise exhibition of their work – the first of many student showcases they will experience.

With all these initiatives underway and the Instagram account growing by the day, there’s no better time than the present to be a student at the Creative Academy. As the SRC’s first Instagram post put it: “The time is now.

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