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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

High-level Texas delegation visits UFS
2010-08-13

Pictured here, from the left, back, are visitors from Texas and UFS management: Ms Stephanie Curs (Director: Office of the Vice President for Global Initiatives), Dr Edwin Price (Associate Vice-Chancellor for International Agriculture and Director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture), Dr Mike Greenwald (Professor and Program Director for the International Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts), Prof. Ward Wells (Professor and Associate Head for Professional Programs, College of Architecture, and Director of Academy for Visual and Performing Arts), Dr Glen Mills ( Professor and Head of Department of Architecture), and Dr Alan Sams (Executive Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences); front: Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Rector and Vice-Chancellor, UFS), Mr Eric Bost (former USA Ambassador to South Africa and Vice-President for Global Initiatives), and Prof. Ezekiel Moraka (Vice-Rector: External Relations, UFS). – Photo: Stephen Collett.

A high-level delegation from Texas A&M University in the USA, led by Mr Eric Bost, Vice-President Global Initiatives and previous USA Ambassador to South Africa, visited the University of the Free State (UFS) recently. The objective of the visit was to forge strategic linkages and research partnerships within the ambit of Texas A&M’s expanded Africa strategy.

Texas A&M has 50 000 students, and is internationally renowned and highly rated for its scholarship, academic achievement and excellent research profile. The delegation consisted of representatives from the President's Office, various deans and heads of departments.

The discussions during the visit identified a number of shared interests and common research foci, and colleagues were unanimous in their pursuit to strengthen the relations.

In January 2009 Mr Bost delivered his final official address as US Ambassador to South Africa on the UFS Main Campus. Mr Bost, a close friend of the UFS, has since sparked numerous activities to further the transformation agenda at the UFS, and is very supportive of the work of the International Institute for Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. A number of Fulbright senior specialists from the US are participating in the further conceptualisation, roll-out and activities of the Institute.
 

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