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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

UFS to send a second group of first-year students overseas
2011-03-23

Some of the students who were chosen in 2010

Following the resounding success of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Student Leadership Development Programme in 2010, the UFS will send a second group of students to the USA in 2011 and also extend the programme by sending students to various universities in Europe and Asia.

This year a total of 150 first-year students will be selected compared to the 71 students that were selected last year. Last year’s group of students spent two weeks, between September and October 2010, at various universities across the United States.
                                         
The programme intends to expose the students to diverse cultures and enable them to learn leadership skills. The goal of the programme is to build a new class of UFS students who become leaders during their years of study and commit to building a non-racial community during and beyond their years at university.
 
Mr Rudi Buys, the UFS Dean of Student Affairs, says: “With the programme we want to develop participants’ thinking and capacity to lead in the contexts of diversity and change and we hope to direct them to programmes leading to change in student life in general upon their return.”
 
The three core purposes of allowing students an opportunity to study abroad are:
  • to introduce South African students to positive models of racial integration and integrated residential life;
  • to share and exchange ideas around issues of race, racism, racial integration and racial reconciliation, with undergraduate students abroad; and
  • to build long-term networking and collaboration between academics and researchers interested in scholarly work on themes of race, reconciliation and social justice.
 
Last year students were selected based on their ability to reflect critically on knowledge of societal issues and successful candidates were put through a preparatory development programme. They were divided into groups and given assignments to complete during the programme. A similar selection process will be undertaken this year.
 
Upon their return, last year’s group of students demonstrated extremely positive outcomes, during an assessment of the project’s goals and achievements. More than 80% of participants agreed that the course met all expectations; the content was meaningful and challenged their existing views. More than 90% felt that the course meaningfully addressed diversity. Among the successes achieved by the programme is the influence of participants in the student community.
 
Many serve as peer mentors for the Gateway First-Year Welcoming and Orientation Programme, while others serve as mentors in well-being and academic peer advisory programmes. Many have also been elected as members of executive committees of student associations and management committees in residences, while some have availed themselves to run for student governance structures throughout 2011 and 2012.
 
The programme proved to be so successful that it was decided to expand the number of students selected for the programme to 150 this year and first-year students are invited to apply. It is envisaged that 90 students will visit American universities, while 60 will visit institutions in Europe and Asia.
 
Last year the students were hosted by, amongst others, Cornell University, the University of New York, Cleveland State University and the University of Massachusetts.
Yale University, Amherst College and other American universities will join these host universities in 2011, in addition to the European and Asian institutions.
 
Those first-year students who wish to apply can find all the information at www.ufs.ac.za 
 

Media Release
23 March 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
 

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