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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

IRSJ marks five years of championing social justice
2016-08-12

Description: IRSJ 5 year Tags: IRSJ 5 year

Members of the Advisory Board of the IRSJ,
Prof Michalinos Zembylas (Open University
of Cyprus), Prof Shirley Anne Tate (Leeds
University, England), and Prof Relebohile
Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal),
listen to a speaker on the programme.
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) marked its fifth anniversary with a function on 27 July 2016 in the Reitz Hall of the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). Earlier that day, the Advisory Board of the IRSJ, chaired by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, hosted their annual meeting.

A new book was also launched, co-authored by JC van der Merwe, Deputy-Director at the IRSJ and Dionne van Reenen, researcher and PhD candidate at the IRSJ. It is entitled Transformation and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading Discourses from ‘Reitz’. The function featured not only reflections on the IRSJ, but a four-member panel discussion of the book and higher education in 2016.

The IRSJ came into being officially at the UFS in January 2011. Prof André Keet, Director of the IRSJ, said: “With a flexibility and trust not easily found in the higher education sector, the university management gave us the latitude and support to fashion an outfit that responds to social life within and outside the borders of the university, locally and globally.”

The IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and
courageous in reforming ... traditional policies."

 

Prof Jansen went on to mention three things he finds appealing about the IRSJ: “Thanks to Prof Keet and his team’s vision and understanding of how important it is for students to have a space in which they can learn how to be, learn how to think, and learn how to contribute, the IRSJ has become a place where students can learn about things that they might not learn in the classroom. Second, it created, for the first time, a space where members of the LGBTIQ community could gather in one place. And third, it speaks to the intellectual life of the university, as evidenced by the research and publications produced over the past few years.”

Prof Jansen added: “The IRSJ will only be successful to the extent that we have safe spaces, courageous spaces, in which not only black students talk to themselves, but where black and white students talk together about their difficulties. If you’re entangled, you can’t get out of [that] unless you speak to the other person.”

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Prof Michalinos Zembylas of the Open University of Cyprus and member of the Advisory Board, said of the IRSJ: “The works produced by the institute in this short time have been valuable to this community and beyond, because they recognise the complexities of education, ... while pushing the boundaries of how to translate theoretical discussions into practical, everyday conditions. ... For example, the IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and courageous in reforming some traditional policies in this university—remnants of an ambivalent past that reproduced inequality and disadvantage.

In reflecting on how the IRSJ came into being during her opening remarks, Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic at the UFS, said that it has always been “dedicated to transformation.” She added that it “gathered the energy and creativity of some of our most promising student leaders.” She concluded: “For me, the greatest success of the Institute, besides publications and local and international networks, is the fact that something that started in the margins is being asked today to come closer to the centre, to play a larger role in the structural transformation of the university.”

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