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Emotional safety during examinations

Mid-year exams have begun and with crunch time comes emotional upheaval. However, it is manageable and should not deter you from the end-goal of succeeding in your studies while maintaining high mental health standards.

“The exam period is a time when stress and anxiety levels are higher than usual. Stress can be positive and help you stay motivated and focused. However, too much stress can be unhelpful and can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and edgy,” says Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director of Student Counselling and Development at the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health, “Mental and emotional health is about being happy, self-confident, self-aware, and resilient. People who are mentally healthy are able to cope with life’s challenges and recover from setbacks. But mental and emotional health requires knowledge, understanding, and effort to maintain. If your mental health isn’t as solid as you’d like it to be, here’s the good news: there are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.”

For further details on topics including: Building Better Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence Toolkit, Benefits of Mindfulness, Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Cultivating Happiness, visit the Help Guide. 

Dr Barnaschone has a few tips on how Kovsies can better approach academic anxiety during the examination period. Here is what she has to say:

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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