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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

Fresh new look for UFS Sasol Library
2013-03-15

 

The revamped entrance area of the UFS Sasol Library.
Photo: Johan Roux
15 March 2013

The UFS Sasol Library on the Bloemfontein Campus has been renovated with a fresh new look to cater for the changing study needs of students. Over the last few months several upgrades have been made to ensure that students get an effective learning experience.

These upgrades will be spread over three phases. Upgrades include newly-built overnight study facilities, partitioned study areas for postgraduate students and areas for leisure reading. Special attention has also been given to security, with the access control system and the tattle-tape security system being moved to the foyer on Level 2. This level, which used to serve only as a thoroughfare to and from the eastern and western parts of the library, has been turned into proper foyers on either side.

"The UFS Library and Information Services are on a mission to present itself as the physical and virtual information hub of choice," says Director Betsy Eister. "The increased intake of new students and technological developments has sparked the notion of new and revamped study spaces conducive to learning.”

Eister says that, after the completion of all three phases, the library will have increased study spaces that appeal to different people with different needs – spaces for studying, leisure reading, newspaper reading, accessing wired and wireless connections and spaces for discussions.

The project which started in October 2012 is part of the university's space-planning projects to optimally utilise space on the Bloemfontein Campus. The project will also see the Centre for Teaching and Learning move to Level 3 of the library.

Hendri Pretorius from the Department of Architecture was the Project Leader responsible for the upgrades to the Library.

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