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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

The book on ‘Reitz’ still not closed
2016-08-12

Description: IRSJ book  Tags: IRSJ book

Prof André Keet, Director: Institute for Reconciliation and
Social Justice (IRSJ) with the authors of Transformation
and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading
Discourses from ‘Reitz’,
JC van der Merwe and
Dionne van Reenen.

A new IRSJ book tackles issues of transformation.

Transformation and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading Discourses from ‘Reitz’ is the first in a series on critical studies in higher education transformation from the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ). In his introduction to this series, Prof André Keet, Director: Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), highlights why a scholarly work of this nature was necessary: “Acts of resistance against structurally-anchored forms of exclusion within universities in both South Africa and elsewhere suggest that, despite our best efforts, the social structure of the academy … has remained more or less intact over the past several decades.” The book was recently launched during the fifth anniversary reflections of the IRSJ.

Transformation and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading Discourses from ‘Reitz’ explores and expands on the landmark “Reitz” incident. The authors, JC van der Merwe, Deputy-Director at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) and Dionne van Reenen, researcher and PhD candidate at the IRSJ, offer insights on how this incident and the events surrounding it represent a recurring pattern that continues to underpin many processes in post-apartheid South Africa.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Chair of the Advisory Board of the IRSJ, and Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, says of the authors: “The courage of their convictions is reflected in this book. They have played, and will continue to play, an amazing role in shaping the discourse around transformation.”

Jamie Turkington, former editor of the IRAWA Post during the time of the ‘Reitz’ incident and facilitator during the five-year anniversary function, says: “This book will be beneficial for every student and every person involved in the University of the Free State since 1980 till now to read and absorb the valuable points therein. If you thought Reitz was over, it shouldn’t be; it is as relevant today as ever.”

"If you thought Reitz was over..."

Turkington adds that the book will serve as a “worthwhile conversation starter at UFS”, raising such questions as:
• How much legitimacy was the UFS able to acquire internally, within the university community, as well as in society at large?
• How do we chart a way forward from here?
• How do we keep the progress going?

As the book itself says: “Reitz serves as a reminder to higher education practitioners that our humanity is fragile in terms of who we are and what we can achieve. Transformation and legitimation, and the way higher education institutions handle these going forward, promises to be seminal in the foreseeable future of the sector.”

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