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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

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

Photo: Johan Roux

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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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