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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

UFS policies want to help all students
2005-03-09

The death of Hannes van Rensburg, a first-year student from the JBM Hertzog residence, this past weekend, placed various aspects of student life in the spotlight.  Dr Natie Luyt, Dean:  Student Affairs at the University of the Free State (UFS), and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS explain which policies are in place to counter these practices.

At all tertiary institutions there are rules and policies to guide students and provide direction for certain behaviour and practices.  The same applies to the University of the Free State (UFS).

“At the beginning of the year the UFS provides every residence committee with a manual to establish a framework for meaningful and orderly relations within and among residences on the campus,” said Dr Natie Luyt.

However, it is one thing to set rules, but it is an impossible task to enforce all aspects thereof.  Policies currently in place include an alcohol policy, a policy on the induction of first years and a policy on banned practices in residence orientation. 

“The alcohol policy was compiled in cooperation with students and their input was constantly asked,” said Dr Luyt.  We also liaise on a continuous basis with residences and senior students to encourage the responsible use of alcohol, especially around activities like intervarsities and Rag. 

In the policy, recognition is given to the right and voluntary and informed choice of every individual to use alcohol on the UFS campus in a responsible way. 

Guidelines for the use of alcohol on campus include among others the following: 

Only authorised points of sale will be permitted on campus.  In this case it is the various league halls in most of the male residences on campus.

Alcohol will only be made available during fixed times and is not permitted in residence rooms.    

All alcohol-related functions are regulated and an application for a temporary alcohol license must be obtained from the Dean:  Student Affairs.     

The UFS obtained a liquor license in March 2004 which must be administered by senior leagues in various residences on campus.   Normal liquor license conditions and the county’s liquor laws apply.  Liquor can only be sold to members of the senior league (or special guests) and also to persons over the age of 18 years.  Liquor may not be used in public (outside the senior league) or on campus.    

The senior leagues may only be open three nights per week and within prescribed times.  No liquor could be used in any other place than the senior league halls.  Senior leagues could buy liquor from club monies generated by themselves. 

The right of senior leagues to serve liquor was suspended by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, on Monday 7 March 2005 – pending an investigation of the recent events on campus. 

The policy on banned practices include among others that no swearing and shouting at first-years may take place, no first-year student may be targeted individually, no senior may enter the room of a first-year student without an invitation or permission from that first-year student and no senior under the influence of alcohol may have contact with first-year students. 

The induction of first-year students takes place by means of three functions, namely an information function (the introduction to the various facets and possibilities of the university system), an induction function (the first-year student becomes involved in various campus and residence activities) and a development function (the first-year student is motivated to take charge of his development potential). 

No first-year induction activity may commence before the residence committee’s contracting with the senior students is not completed.  This meeting is attended by the residence head and all senior students.  The induction policy, residence induction policy of first-year students and first-year rules are discussed.

The senior students sign an attendance list to show that he/she was informed about the policies.  A senior who does not sign, may not be involved with any induction session with first-year students.  

No physical contact is allowed during the conclusion of the first-year students’ official induction period.  The induction of first-year students as full members of the residence is a prestige event, presented by the residence committee.  No physical or degrading activities may take place. 

The Dean:  Student Affairs also has a daily meeting with the primarii of all the residences during the induction period.  This helps to monitor the situation and counter any problem behaviour or tendencies.

“Enforced behaviour – where a senior student forces a first-year student to do something against his/her own free wil – is not allowed.  Where there is any sign of this, it is met wortel en tak uitgeroei,” said Dr Luyt.

“In any group of people – whether it is a group of students or people at a workplace – there will always be those who will break the rules or those who would like to see how far they could push it.

The SRC, the UFS management and myself are and will stay committed to make each student’s life on this campus a school of learning and an experience which would be remembered for ever,” said Dr Luyt.

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