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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. 

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Many changes for Shimlas, says new captain
2016-01-25

 Description: 2016 Shimla Neil Claassen Tags: 2016 Shimla Neil Claassen
The versatile forward, Neil Claassen, will lead the Shimlas onto the field in the 2016 Varsity Cup. Photo: Johan Roux.

The University of the Free State (UFS) has a new group of rugby players, a new head coach, and a new captain.

This is how the Shimla skipper, Neil Claassen, summed up his team's approach to the 2016 Varsity Cup.

Although the UFS will start the tournament as defending champions, the 23-year-old Claassen believes that much has changed since 2015.

One of which is his appointment. The flanker, who can play lock as well, was recently appointed as Varsity Cup captain in his third series.

The former Springbok flanker, Hendro Scholtz, took over as head coach from Franco Smith, who is now the Cheetahs trainer. Mac Masina, former centre for the Lions, is a new assistant coach.

New year with more pressure

Because of all the changes, Claassen feels that the Shimlas will need a different approach to the 2016 tournament.

“There will definitely be more attention on us (as champions). However, the guys in the camp see it as a new year,” he said.

“There is pressure, but we don't focus on that too much.”

Previous leaders set example

According to Claassen, he has never before led a team for which he played.

“I didn't expect to be captain,” the former pupil of Paarl Gymnasium said.

“This is something new. I have played with good leaders like AJ (Coertzen) and Oupa (Mohoje) before, and will take forward what I have learned from them.”

He also believes that there are several senior players, such as the vice-captain, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, who will assist him in his leadership role.

Back from injury

Claassen has played Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup, U21 and U19 rugby for the Free State.

However, a knee injury kept him out of action for nine months and he missed the last three Varsity Cup matches of 2015.

He returned for a training match against the University of Johannesburg in Kroonstad on 23 January 2016. The Shimlas also played a warm-up match against the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Bethlehem on 16 January 2016.

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