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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

UFS responds to media reports about UFS101
2012-08-18

The UFS101 is a cross-disciplinary module of the University of the Free State (UFS) that encourages critical thinking and offers access to knowledge beyond the specific qualifications for which students are registered. This is a multi-disciplinary academic curriculum that includes topics in astronomy, nanotechnology, history, law, anthropology and religion.

Throughout the seven units students are taught to think broadly rather than narrowly, and critically rather than through rote-learning.

The core curriculum module raises some difficult questions about science, humanity and the universe that have occupied human beings for centuries. There is considerable effort put into the module to enable balance, respect, and independent thinking. Students are not taught what to think but are offered different perspectives on difficult issues.

“In my unit on the question ‘how should we deal with the past?’ every effort is made for students to examine the perspectives on history held by people from different communities in South Africa,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.

Students are then encouraged to speak in class, online and in tutorial groups where they are given ample opportunities to take a position and defend it not through emotion and anger, but through logic and reason.

The objective of the module is to equip students to deal with “the present past” in constructive and empathetic ways. They are also prepared to become active citizens outside the classroom and gain skills they can use anywhere in the world.

Some students find the module difficult at first, since most of them are not used to the practice of critical thinking and dealing with difficult questions from the past, the present and the future. Most students gradually come to enjoy the core curriculum module as they become accustomed to a new style of teaching and learning.

There are 700 first-year modules at the UFS. This is the only one module offered to students in English so that all students, local and international, can engage with one another directly on the subject matter discussed in the module. However, the module material is also available in Afrikaans online.It is a pity that AfriForum Jeug Kovsies did not discuss their concerns with the presenters of the module, but chose to do it through the media.

It is a pity that AfriForum Jeug Kovsies did not discuss their concerns with the presenters of the module, but chose to do it through the media.

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