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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.


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UFS hosts the nation's senior professionals in Student Affairs
2011-12-05

 

Some of the Senior Student Affairs Professionals present at the meeting were back row from left: Dr Llewellyn MacMaster, Dean of Student Affairs: Stellenbosch University; Profs. Bobby Mandew, Dean of Student Affairs: University of Johannesburg; McGlory Speckman, Dean of Student Affairs: University of Pretoria; and Ms Babalwa Ntabeni-Matutu, Department of Higher Education and Training. Front from left are: Dr Choice Makhetha and Ms Khanyisile Nyembenzi, SAASSAP Project Officer from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The Deans of Students of thirteen of the country’s universities recently gathered at the University of the Free State's (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus to attend the Deans’ Forum of the South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals (SAASSAP).  

The heads of Students Affairs from universities such as Stellenbosch, Johannesburg and Pretoria discussed challenges facing higher education institutions and shared campus experiences during their meeting.
 
Dr Choice Makhetha, Acting Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS and President of SAASSAP, says the issues that were addressed included registrations and poverty on campuses. Dr Makhetha, who is serving a second term as president of the organisation, says they came up with strategies on how to support campuses in partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training.
 
SAASSAP will host its 14th national conference next year from 24 - 26 October in Bloemfontein. The UFS and the Central University of Technology will host the conference together and it is expected that all twenty three member institutions as well as Student Affairs Associations from abroad will attend.

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