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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

Economic students taken outside comfort zone
2010-08-13

At the recent launch of the annual competition for third-year Economics students were, from left: Deon Beck, Vincent Ramorara and Limakatso Majoro.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The Research Cluster on Sustainable Development and the Department of Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently launched an annual competition for third-year Economics students. This interdisciplinary competition, called “Economics at the grassroots”, is led by Prof. Doreen Atkinson, the Cluster Coordinator and Dr Karen Thomas, a Senior Lecturer of Economics in the Department of Economics.

Students were randomly divided into groups by Dr Thomas. As part of an ice-breaker exercise, the groups had to answer ten questions, which ranged from “What is the Rector of the UFS's second name?” to “What is the currency of Honduras and what is the value of it in Rands?”

According to Prof. Atkinson, this type of competition unleashes a new wave of creativity, as students work together on practical problems, which take the students outside their comfort zone.

The top three groups will win cash prizes, sponsored by the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) and Sanlam.

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