13 June 2023 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Supplied
GBV UFS Values
Values are a powerful tool in the fight against gender-based violence.

Dr Choice Makhetha, a participant in a recent dialogue focused on the role of student leadership in eradicating gender-based violence (GBV), conveyed a pivotal message during her opening statement. She emphasised universities’ dedication to reshaping and instilling new values in the lives of students. This sentiment laid the foundation for an insightful discussion centred on the importance of values in combating GBV. 

"In university, we work hard to reshape and bring new values into students' lives,” said the Director of Student Affairs at Stellenbosch University, who is a former University of the Free State (UFS) Vice-Rector: External Relations, Dean of Student Affairs, and alumna.

The dialogue was a collaborative effort between the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office and the Division of Student Affairs. It featured esteemed experts in student governance and leadership, including Sikhululekile Luwaca, Assistant Researcher in the UFS Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, Prof Nicky Morgan, former UFS Vice-Rector: Operations, and Moema Motlogelwa, Assistant Director in Student Affairs.

The importance of being value-driven

Luwaca emphasised the need for student leaders to contemplate UFS values. He remarked, "Vision 130 commits us to be accountable. It affirms that those within the UFS will be held accountable. We are devoted to creating an environment that fosters exceptional teaching, learning, and scholarship, as well as caring for ourselves, our fellow human beings, and the natural environment. Our commitment lies in advancing the values of human dignity through ethical and transparent conduct, along with institutional responsibility."

In addition, Luwaca proposed the implementation of a prerequisite course on GBV for all students aspiring to hold positions in the Student Representative Council. This measure would further enhance awareness and understanding of GBV among future leaders.

Echoing similar sentiments, Prof Morgan advocated for justice and respect as fundamental guiding principles in all interactions. “Develop an internal compass of what is right – and that does not depend on laws, politics, or democracy. GBV among our leaders is not a political issue.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Motlogelwa's contribution focused on developing student leaders and addressing gender-based violence (GBV). He highlighted three key steps: awareness and education, advocacy and support, and strengthening partnerships. He emphasised the need for well-informed student leaders who understand university policies and referral systems. Motlogelwa also stressed the importance of advocating and supporting GBV prevention. Additionally, he proposed collaborative efforts with relevant entities to achieve common goals. Ultimately, the goal is to produce model citizens who embody the university's vision and values.

What values do we subscribe to as an institution? 

At the UFS, our values are integral to shaping our culture and guiding our actions and choices. These values include a commitment to excellence, innovation, and impact, as well as accountability, care, and social justice. These principles are articulated in Vision 130, our strategic intent to reposition the institution by the time of its 130th anniversary in 2034.

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