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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence
2017-06-07

Description:First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence Tags: First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence

Ladies from the House Harmony, a unique residence
that focuses on first-years’ experience.
Photo: Supplied

A unique residence that focuses on first-years’ experience, is exactly what Harmony sets out to provide for all first-year students at the University of the Free State.

A residence focusing on mentoring

Entering the adult world can be a daunting experience, but Harmony, unlike other residences on campus, focuses on mentoring. Harmony came to life in 2014 and has assisted many first-years in adapting to the university environment.

According to Pulane Malefane, Residence Head of House Harmony, they have witnessed a significant change in the pass rate of first-year students. “We have realised that first-years gain confidence much quicker than in other residences where they still need to find their way around seniors,” she says.

Adapting to the varsity environment

Harmony makes use of a Residence Assistants (RA) system, not Residence Committees (RC). The RA stay in corridors with their mentees in order to have close contact with them. An RA’s primary role is to be a mentor to first-years and also expose them to different co-curriculum activities on campus. They assist them in adapting to the varsity environment quicker, so as to be able to focus and concentrate on their academics.

Nicole Rabe, RA First-years, says the Harmony belles never cease to amaze her. “Watching these first-years grow from the high school girls that arrived at the start of this year, to the independent women they are now, has truly been a blessing.”

Malefane mentions that they intentionally try to place students from one faculty in the same corridor. In that way, mentors and residence assistants are in close proximity to them. “We have study rooms in each and every corridor of Harmony, making it easy for students to study close to their rooms at any time,” she says.

Phathutshodzo Nekhavanmbe, a first-year LLB student, says she could not have asked for a better house to be placed in. “The Harmony experience has been great so far, as the people living there are approachable and eager to lend a helping hand.”

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