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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

Eusebius McKaiser talks about the magic of books
2013-03-19

 

Eusebius McKaiser
Photo: Johan Roux
19 March 2013

If you want to turn around this country in terms of the rot in education, you have to start reading. You have to read for your degree."

This was the message from writer and political analyst, Eusebius McKaiser, at a public lecture hosted by the UFS Library and Information Services to celebrate South African Library Week.

Addressing the audience that consisted mostly of students, McKaiser, author of “A Bantu in my bathroom,” said it is not too late to start reading.

"We claim we are too busy as adults, but what is the opportunity cost of not reading? I think we lose our humanity, our sense of awe in the world around us when we stop reading as adults. Instead of saying we are too busy, we will do well to ask ourselves what is the cost of no longer reading as much as we did when we were children."

Reading from some of his favourite books, McKaiser spoke about writing techniques and the magic of books. He read excerpts from JM Coetzee's book “Disgrace,” which he considers to be the most important South African novel. He also read paragraphs from books by Rian Malan, James Baldwin and K Sello Duiker – calling the latter a genius.

Reflecting on the role of fiction, McKaiser said the genre is misunderstood and not utilised sufficiently by academics. "We see fiction as something restricted to the English Department or literary departments. I think fiction can be used as a tool in many departments in the humanities. It gives more real material for exploring complicated questions in the humanities and thought experiments that resemble life."

McKaiser also discussed the role of librarians and writers, saying writers should write what they like, but should not ignore the context. "As academics, librarians, teachers, we have to write for the context in which we teach. We have to order books for the context in which we are librarians and as academics we must not write textbooks for students who live in New York. We have to write textbooks for students who come from townships.”

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