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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

Kovsie community pledge to advance equality and eradicate racism
2015-04-15

Photo: Johan Roux

Photo Gallery 
Speech by JC van der Merwe

On Monday 13 April 2015, the University of the Free State drew a line in history. Staff and students united in a singular vision: equality.

Since March 2015, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, together with the SRC, has launched the No-to-Racism/Yes-to-Equality Campaign across all three campuses with tremendous success. This campaign has now reached a high point at which the Kovsie community pledge their commitment to entrenching a culture of equality at the university. The first pledge ceremony took place on 13 April 2015 at the Bloemfontein Campus. Kovsies thronged to place their inked thumbprints on pledge posters in an inspirational show of solidarity.

“The key to transformation,” Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, said, “is putting yourself in the shoes of the other person.” When you look past yourself and acknowledge others’ experiences, the world starts to look different. A pledge, Prof Jansen continued, is a solemn promise – not only to stop bad behaviour, but to go forward resolutely with good behaviour. “You do not change a campus, you do not change a country, without being courageous,” Prof Jansen said.

The message from Mosa Leteane, President of the Student Representative Council (SRC), echoed the same belief. “Today,” Leteane said, “the UFS takes a bold and courageous step toward equality.” This new generation, which includes young people from all races, has started a new revolution. A generation that says no to discrimination and yes to equality. “We cannot afford to be ignorant or indifferent,” Leteane urged.

The remaining two campuses will also have an opportunity to publically pledge their support on the following days:
Qwaqwa Campus: Wednesday 15 April 2015
South Campus: Friday 17 April 2015

To enable the university to go beyond dialogues and consultation towards active decision-making, a University Assembly will be held on Tuesday 28 April 2015. The assembly will serve as a space for critical engagement among all university stakeholders to focus on issues such as symbols, policies, practices, and curriculum. Staff and students are encouraged to submit matters for discussion to JC van der Merwe (vdmjc@ufs.ac.za) before 22 April 2015.

The No-to-Racism/Yes-to-Equality Campaign is aligned with the declaration made by the UFS Council in November 2014, in which it states that “the Council of the University of the Free State believes very strongly in the human dignity, equality, and freedom of all people.”

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