Pura Mgolombane - Dean Student AffairsDear Student, 

It is with great pleasure and a sense of humility that I take the opportunity to welcome you to the University of the Free State (UFS), passionately referred to as ‘Kovsies’. 

I am pleased to be the first one to give you an assignment; your assignment is to find out the historic significance and meaning of Kovsies; because that knowledge will help you understand your new identity as a Kovsie. 

This assignment will be the first of many. The idea of being at a university, especially at Kovsies, is that you must learn to think – not only to think, but to think critically about your own thinking. This is important, because you will be meeting different people with different identities who come from different backgrounds. Each of you will be bringing different ways of being human; you will be bringing your unique ways of seeing and looking at the world. In this light, the question I would like to pose to you is this: ‘what makes your way of seeing the world the right one and that of another the wrong one?’ I would argue that the answer lies in the ‘value’ that is awarded to one form of difference (in perspectives) over the other. Our awareness of these values allows us to always reconsider our versions of truths; our ways of seeing and being in the world; it is in that moment that learning, unlearning, and relearning takes place'. 

This is what Critical Diversity Literacies are about; they are about making meaning of our differences. That is, our differences are not neutral; they come with power and privilege. So, when you meet a person, you need to realise that that person embodies multiple identities. Intersectionality Theory teaches us that, in order to achieve social justice, we need to deal with the multiplicity of identities that people embody; because people do not live single lives, rather they have multiple ways of being human. 

The Humanising Pedagogy assists us in demonstrating what we need to do to be truly human, and in the process treat others as human beings. Given our socialisation and our different positionalities in our society, dealing with difference critically becomes very uncomfortable. However, the Pedagogy of Discomfort suggests that material change takes place at a point of discomfort; so, when we are faced with discomfort – which I am sure you will – we need to embrace it, because such discomfort signals possibilities for material change. Hence the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) motto: ‘certain about uncertainty, comfortable with discomfort’. I hope you will take advantage of every opportunity to enhance your student experience at Kovsies, challenge yourself academically, make ethical social choices, and be open to learning from students whose backgrounds and interests are different from yours; once you do that, ‘you will discover the feeling’. 

If you want to learn more about the Student Affairs Strategic Plan or Strategy Framework, please visit our homepage

Pura Mgolombane 
Dean: Student Affairs

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