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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

US professor makes the case for public scholarship
2011-08-17

 

The Eatman family from the left: Jasmin Eatman, Prof. Timothy Eatman and Mrs. Lorraine Eatman

The university of the 21st century should not be an ivory tower; rather it should work with communities to co-create things of public value. This was one of the observations made by visiting US Prof. Timothy Eatman. He delivered a public lecture on the topic Public Scholarship and the democratisation of knowledge in the engaged university at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Monday, 15 August 2011. Prof. Eatman challenged people at the lecture to think about richer ways of thinking about engaged public scholarship and said they need to prepare for a new citizenry of academia.

Prof. Eatman, an assistant professor of Higher Education at Syracuse University in the United States, said that knowledge was revealed in diverse ways and advised institutions of higher education to demonstrate an increasing sensitivity to issues of relevance to public good. Prof. Eatman said the present era calls for the development of a more sophisticated understanding of knowledge creation.

Prof. Eatman, who is visiting our country for the first time, brought along his mother, Lorraine, and daughter, Jasmin, who performed a contemporary dance during the event. The family had been in Bloemfontein for the past week or so and Eatman expressed his gratitude to staff and people of Bloemfontein, saying he can deliver personal testimony to the beauty of the Free State.
 

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