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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

Nobel Laureate for Chemistry to visit UFS
2017-10-28

Description: Prof Levitt read more Tags: Prof Levitt read more

Prof Michael Levitt will be hosted by the UFS from
14 to 16 November 2017, where he will present the
first lecture in the Vice-Chancellor’s
Prestige Lecture Series.
Photo: Supplied

It is a great honour for the University of the Free State (UFS) to host Prof Michael Levitt, recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, which he shares with Marti Karplus and Arieh Warshel.

The trio received the Nobel Prize for their development of multiscale models used for complex chemical systems. “Being awarded the Nobel Prize is a unique and marvellous experience that no one can prepare for or could in any way know what to except,” said Prof Levitt during his 2013 Nobel Lecture at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

First lecture in Vice-Chancellor’s lecture series

The South African-born Nobel Laureate and Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Visiting Scholar will present the first lecture, Birth and Future of Multiscale Modelling of Macromolecules, in the Vice-Chancellors Prestige Lecture Series at the UFS on 14 November 2017. Prof Levitt is well-known for developing approaches which predict macromolecular structures.

He is one of many distinguished academics invited annually by ASSAf to deliver lectures as part of the Distinguished Visiting Scholars’ Programme, presented by ASSAf at universities across the country.

Pioneer in research of molecular dynamics

Prof Levitt is a biophysicist and a professor of Biology at Stanford University. He was one of the earliest researchers to conduct research on molecular dynamics stimulations of DNA and proteins. “My post-prize ambitions are twofold and probably inconsistent: (1) Work single-mindedly as I did in the mid-1970s on hard problems, and (2) Help today’s young scientists gain the recognition and independence which my generation enjoyed,” said Prof Levitt.

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