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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

State of our campuses: UFS closes campuses until Friday 28 October 2016 to readjust academic programme
2016-10-13

The senior leadership of the University of the Free State (UFS) has carefully analysed all the risks facing the university in the current national crisis in higher education, which includes the possibility of losing the academic year. The university management has been engaged in back-to-back meetings with the student leadership, South African Police Service (SAPS), and other stakeholders over the past two days in an attempt to ensure the safety of all parties, and normalise the academic functioning of the UFS.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to arrive at an agreement about the resumption of the academic year regardless of the timing of the government response to students’ demands. This is further complicated by the fact that the university has received notice of intention of an  interdict to reopen with immediate effect.

Taking all of this into account, the senior leadership of the UFS has decided as follows:

  1. The UFS will not be shutting down for the remainder of 2016. The Bloemfontein and South Campuses will, however, be shutting down from Thursday 13 October 2016 until Friday 28 October 2016. These two weeks will be used for crucial and complex arrangements to be put in place to readjust the academic calendar and ensure that all students can complete their studies.
  2. The academic arrangements are focused on organising alternative modes of delivery of our programmes to support student learning. Academics will be working on readjusting their course materials for this purpose.
  3. The Bloemfontein Campus and the South Campuses will be closed for undergraduate and honours students. Administrative and academic staff will be working, as well as master's and doctoral students.
  4. Students in residence will have to vacate their rooms by 12:00 on Saturday 15 October 2016. Students who need help in this regard must please contact +27 51 401 2001 or send an email to hotline@ufs.ac.za.
  5. Arrangements will be made to accommodate international, master's, and doctoral students.
  6. The specific information about academic programmes will be communicated to students by their respective faculties as it becomes available.

The senior leadership wants to restate its commitment to free education as well as its willingness to stand together with students and other public universities to impress on government the urgency to decide on a time frame for the roll-out of free higher education for the poor and missing middle. During these two weeks the UFS will meet with the leadership of Universities South Africa to coordinate collective action in this regard.

 Consistent with this commitment the UFS leadership will roll out a series of activities to inform and educate students and the general public on different models and experiences of providing free higher education. 

 The UFS is deeply concerned about the possible securitisation of our campus as a way of solving this crisis.

 The UFS condemns in the strongest terms violence as a methodology to achieve ends in the context of a democratic state.We are, as always, committed to providing quality education and a conducive environment for learning.

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