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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

New guidelines to increase diversity in student residences at the UFS
2007-06-08

As from 2008, the University of the Free State (UFS) will implement new policy guidelines for student residences so as to increase diversity on the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein.

These new policy guidelines were approved by the Council of the UFS today (Friday 8 June 2007) after consultations with a range of stakeholders, especially students currently in residences, student leaders and student organisations, with inputs received from alumni and parents as well.

According to a statement by the Chairperson of the UFS Council, Judge Faan Hancke, and the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the guidelines are based on an educational rationale with a definite educational objective.

“What the UFS seeks to do with these new policy guidelines, is to overcome the racial divides of the past and equip students in residences with the knowledge and skills to understand people from other cultures, appreciate other languages and to respect differences in religion but also economic background,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.

“This will give students in UFS residences a distinct advantage over many other work seekers in South Africa, because the workplace today is a very diverse place with people of many backgrounds,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.
They said the UFS wanted to establish a new model of residence life in which students will voluntarily embrace diversity and learn about diversity so as to add value to their educational experience in a residence.

In the late 1990s the UFS made the first attempt to integrate its residences which led to violent clashes between white and black students. A compromise agreement was reached based on freedom of association but this has over the years led to the current situation of largely white and largely black residences.

To support students during the implementation of the new policy guidelines, the management of the UFS will establish several mechanisms and programmes for students to empower them, to build their capacity and to facilitate a smooth transition to a new model of student life in the residences.

Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said the decision is another important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the UFS and in the provision of quality higher education for all UFS students, and that the decision had been taken in the best interests of the students.

“This is a very carefully managed transition to bring about a non-racial character to our student residences in line with the Constitution and the ethos of a democratic South Africa,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said.

How the new policy will work in practice

As from 2008, the new policy aims to bring about an important shift in the way first-years are placed in a residence. From 2008 first-year students are to be placed to achieve a minimum diversity level of 30% in each junior residence.

In senior residences a mix of approximately 50-50 will be the goal from 2008.
Residences will be responsible for placing 50% of first-years, which gives them the scope to increase diversity. The university’s accommodation service will place the other 50%. All these placements must occur in accordance with the educational rationale and the related diversity objective.

If a residence cannot reach the diversity objectives, the university will use the 50% of placements that it controls to achieve sufficient diversity in a particular residence.

Support mechanisms for students

According to Dr Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: Student Affairs, students in the residences will not be left on their own to deal with the issues of diversity. The management of the UFS has identified several important areas where the process may need support, especially in the early stages of implementation. Students and student leadership will be involved in the further design and finalisation of the implementation details.

These areas where support will be finalised are the following:

  • Providing properly trained and qualified personnel (such as live-in wardens, residence heads etc.) to supervise the implementation of the policy on a 24-hour basis;
  • Ongoing orientation workshops for all students in residences to deal with diversity in a mature way;
  • Support to deal with language issues, including interpreting services so that language rights of all students can be respected; and
  • Assistance with the review of residence governance, administrative and other procedures that have been used in residences up to now.

“There can therefore be no doubt that the management is committed to the well-supported and successful implementation of this new policy and to giving the best possible education to all our students,” Judge Hancke and Prof Fourie said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
8 June 2007
 

 
 

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