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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

Unit for Students with Disabilities impresses
2012-08-10

MUT learns from UFS: From the left, back: Ms Hetsie Veitch, Head of the Unit for Students with Disabilities at the UFS; Mr Rudi Buys, Student Dean at the UFS; front: Mr Mthoko Ntuli, Student Development Officer; Ms Lindiwe Chamane, Student Guidance Officer; and Dr Sibongiseni Ngcamu, Coordinator of Organisational Development (all from the MUT).
10 August 2012

Staff of the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in KwaZulu-Natal visited the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) to gain insight into the working of the Unit for Students with Disabilities. They visited the campus on recommendation of the Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu.

In the interaction between the two institutions, it was agreed that the Unit for Students with Disabilities would assist the MUT in drawing up a policy for students with disabilities, as well as on how to make residences more accessible and to manage support services for the students. The two institutions also agree to closer collaboration of student governance and leadership development as well as international students.

Ms Hetsie Veitch, Head of the Unit for Students with Disabilities, said this was not the first time that the UFS was used as a benchmark. She said the UFS is held in high regard because every disabled student’s needs were specifically addressed. “We follow a holistic approach so that students with disabilities have the same student life and experience as any other


 

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