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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

Registrar takes leadership role at Golden Key International
2012-03-08

 

Dr Derek Swemmer
8 March 2012

The world’s premier academic honour society, the Golden Key International Honour Society, has recognised academic excellence at our university by appointing Dr Derek Swemmer, Registrar of the UFS, as chairperson of its international board of directors.

Dr Swemmer is the first South African to serve as Chairperson of the governing body of the society. He will take up office in July 2012. Dr Swemmer, who has served as a board member for two terms, was appointed at a recent board meeting of the society in Georgia, Atlanta in the United States.
 
Dr Swemmer's role as Chairperson of the board is to ensure that the society’s values of academic excellence, leadership and service are followed in the more than 375 chapters worldwide. He will serve a three-year term on the board, which oversees the awarding of scholarships worth $1 million to its members annually.
 
Dr Swemmer says he is honoured to serve the UFS and South Africa in this capacity. “The appointment is humbling when you know you have hundreds of volunteers that could have been asked to serve.”
 
Dr Swemmer, who is co-advisor of the UFS Golden Key chapter, says he hopes to help the society to expand its service activities in order to provide an excellent example to the world of how highly skilled academic students render meaningful service to their communities, both at university and to the broader community.
 
He says the Golden Key International Honour Society is a very important part of the UFS’s Academic and Human project.

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