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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

Faculty of Theology hosts conference on theology and science
2010-03-25

 
At the conference were, from the left: Prof. Rian Venter, Department of Systematic Theology at the UFS and organiser of the conference; Prof. Isabel Phiri, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Prof. André van Niekerk, Stellenbosch University; Prof. Francois Tolmie, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the UFS; and Prof. Wentzel van Huyssteen, Princeton, USA.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


The Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS) presented an interdisciplinary conference with the theme faith, religion and the public university this week.

The conference was preceded by a public lecture: Human Uniqueness? In Search of the Image of God by Prof. Wentzel van Huyssteen of Princeton in the United States of America (USA). In his lecture he asks: What makes humans different from animals? He also discusses the statement: Is there something that science can teach theologians and something that theologians can teach science?

In his lecture Prof. van Huyssteen refers to the prehistoric paintings in, among others, Spain, France and also Mossel Bay in South Africa. According to him these rock paintings shed some interesting light on the nature of humankind. “It seems as if there is a possible religious connotation to these paintings. Among others it becomes clear that man has the ability to ask deeper questions about his existence,” said Prof. van Huyssteen.

This find of prehistoric paintings is also an example of an interdisciplinary search for answers to the question: What makes man different from other species?

The rock art also shows that man sees himself as part of nature. “Being the image of God” has also to do with an awareness of nature and man’s special task therein as image bearer of God,” said Prof. van Huyssteen.

These are interesting perspectives given by other sciences on the nature of man. From the theology the perspective of “man created to the image of God” is added. At this occasion speakers from different disciplines such as law, physics, sociology, philosophy and theology participated in the discussion about the position of religion at a public university.

Other main speakers at this occasion were Prof. Isabel Phiri from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Prof. Anton van Niekerk from Stellenbosch University.
 

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