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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

UFS withdraws interdict against SASCO and ANCYL
2003-11-25

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced today that a court order against the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) had been withdrawn.

The withdrawal of the court order follows after a written statement by SASCO and the ANCYL in which they “unconditionally withdraw or retract statements threatening to render the institution ungovernable” and give their “commitment not to proceed with our threats to establish our own democratic SRC and occupy the current SRC offices”.

The UFS management obtained the court order in October after SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome of the recent student referendum and SRC elections and threatened to disrupt the campus.

Prof Fourie also welcomed the undertaking by SASCO and the ANCYL to act in accordance with the prescribed procedures to resolve any grievance that the organisations may have, saying the UFS management remains committed to a constructive dialogue with all student organisations to manage a campus of diversity, tolerance and non-racialism.

In September students voted in a referendum to test support for a system of proportional representation (PR) for the SRC. A vast majority of students voted against the PR system, a system favoured by SASCO and the ANCYL..

Following allegations of fraud in the referendum, the UFS management asked the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent audit of the ballot papers.

The auditors found that a total of 180 ballot papers out of 3513 – only 5.12% - of the votes cast - appeared to have been altered by means of erasing and then changing the student number.

According to the auditors, with all potentially altered and suspicious ballot papers excluded, a huge majority of 60,8% of students voted against the proportional representation system.

A few days after the referendum, the actual SRC election was held. However, at no stage were there any complaints from any organization about the integrity of the SRC election itself.

Despite this and the findings of the auditors, SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome.

Law student Quintin du Plessis was elected SRC president. He welcomed the stance taken by SASCO and the ANCYL to pursue their objectives through the existing structures and said the SRC was always willing to engage with these organisations on issues of student governance.

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