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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

Rasool lauds our university
2011-10-24

 
At the dinner at the residence of the South African Ambassador to the USA, Mr Ebrahim Rasool, were, from the left: Prof. Debra Stewart, President of the Council of Graduate Schools in the USA; South African Ambassador, Mr Rasool; Prof. Jansen; and Prof. Molly Corbett Broad, President of the American Council on Education (ACE).

The Ambassador for South Africa to the United States of America (USA), Mr Ebrahim Rasool, recently hosted Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of our university and a group of representatives from major science councils, foundations and universities at his home in Washington DC. Our university is the first South African university to be hosted at the official home of the Ambassador.

“The University of the Free State has shown South Africa and the world how to work with the past and how to make the past work for them. “You are a thought leader who had the privilege not to be comfortable with your own ideas of history; you understood the need to change and embraced it. You have moved the fastest towards racial and human togetherness of all the South African universities,” Mr Rasool said.
 
Prof. Jansen responded by saying that Africa needed strong academic universities and that had to be the focus of tertiary institutions across the continent. “We must create opportunities for people to be together and to learn from each other. The UFS is an experiment of human togetherness – and this experiment is taking off,” he said. 
 
During his visit to the USA, Prof. Jansen also discussed research partnerships and new placements for UFS staff and students through exchange visits.

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