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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

Mandela statues and the issue of public representation
2015-09-04

   

Prof Grant Parker, Associate Professor of Classics and Co-Director of the Centre for African Studies at Stanford University, USA, presented a public lecture on the Bloemfontein Campus on 27 August 2015, in which he explored the topic of ”Memorialising Mandela after Rhodes Must Fall”. What stories do the multitude of Mandela statues tell us about the man? Our society? Ourselves? These were some of the questions Prof Parker addressed during his lecture.

Paradoxes
Prof Parker discussed some of the paradoxes presented by the Mandela statues. The huge 9m high Mandela statue at the Union Buildings in Pretoria does not necessarily reflect his humility. Iconic statues strewn across the world do not reveal Madiba’s appeal. “Madiba’s charm,” Prof Parker said, “was all about his ability to relate to people of very different backgrounds. People who were his enemies would – to their surprise – find a humanity they were not expecting. It’s very hard to reconcile that with the colossal statues.”

Rhodes Must Fall
On the topic of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, Prof Parker said that “the debates around it seem to express the frustration of deepening equality in general and lack of demographic change.” He also believes that, although the campaign centres on statues, there are much deeper issues at play that need to be addressed.

Artists should be part of the conversation
Prof Parker also advocated that artists’ voices should be incorporated into the creative processes of public art. “There is a much greater need for creative artists,” he concluded, “to be part of conversations, not only about what we as South Africans want to commemorate, but how we do that. I would very strongly suggest that this be done by non-figural representations.”

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