04 November 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
SK Luwaca at UFS Safety Summit for off-campus students
Sikhululekile Luwaca, leader of the UFS Safety Champions, addresses a delegation at the Higher Education Safety Summit from 18-19 October 2019 at the Bloemfontein Campus.

A meeting of minds over student safety recently took place at Kovsies. The Higher Education Safety Summit saw a cohort of 165 students from the University of the Free State (UFS), Central University of Technology and Sol Plaatje University, collaborating with the heads of Protection Services from the respective institutions to devise a safety blueprint specifically focusing on the off-campus environment.

“The rental tribunal came on board to assist with rental disputes between students and landlords, in addition to accreditation issues being discussed,” Sikhululekile Luwaca, former SRC President of the Bloemfontein Campus and leader of the UFS Safety Champions that form part of the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice.

Luwaca further said that the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality also committed to assist the universities in addressing crime and enforcing by-laws. “A strategic safety plan was developed around spatialisation and zoning of student communes, developing a system that will assist universities to establish where students stay by using technology such as geographic information system (GIS),” he added.

What were the objectives of the summit?
Being the first of many to come, the summit set out clear objectives which all stakeholders have committed to work tirelessly to achieve, both in the short and long term.

The goals of the summit were threefold. Firstly, the intention was to build capacity between students and staff of all institutions involved to implement programmes by transferring the skills and knowledge between one another.

Secondly, the idea was to gather and consolidate input from the various higher-learning institutions and by so doing diversify the solutions. Thirdly, the purpose of the summit was to create an official platform where partners may consult on interventions that will ripple from the local, to the provincial and further to national level.

Andiswa Msomi, Spatialisation Group Leader and the Safety Champions’ administrator said she appreciated the shift in perspective that the summit brought. “The summit brought to my attention that sometimes we focus so deeply on one aspect of a problem that we end up not seeing alternative solutions. Due to active participants, new solutions came up, new ideas were brought forth and more importantly, we were able to get other institutions on board,” she said.

What are some of the tangible outcomes?
Going forward, an internal report which focuses on crime prevention measures will be presented to all UFS stakeholders. An external report, which will be submitted by the Safety Champions to the government in January 2020, is expected to be integrated into the Provincial Crime Prevention Strategy.

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