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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 to get transformation plan for African context
2005-02-04

The University of the Free State is to draft a comprehensive Transformation Plan to give impetus to the process of making the UFS an inclusive, non-racial, non-sexist, multi-cultural and multi-lingual university within the African context.

Delivering a keynote speech at the Official Opening of the UFS today, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the Transformation Plan would include aspects such as employment equity, institutional culture, academic excellence, and other elements.

He added that another aspect to be considered in the academic element of the Transformation Plan was the issue of the African context, of a university for Africa, in Africa, of the African university.

According to Prof Fourie, the best way of understanding the role of the UFS in Africa and for Africa, is for the university to become a truly engaged university that bridges the gap between the institution and the community. He said the UFS had for more than 10 years been at the forefront of transformation in higher education, and had gone through several phases of transformation. However the UFS needed to embark on a new phase of transformation which would be guided by a comprehensive Transformation Plan.

The Transformation Plan would be the result of an inclusive consultation process involving staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders. It would also be based on a review of current policies and practices.
The process would be led by a Transformation Plan Team, co-ordinated by the Vice-Rector: Academic Operations, Prof Teuns Verschoor, and the Vice-Rector: Student Affairs, Dr Ezekiel Moraka.

“Obviously we should also not underestimate the complexities of transformation and of building a new society, given our complex history and the legacies of poverty, underdevelopment, colonialism and apartheid.

“We must consider support for staff involved in these transformation steps, including appropriate staff development, capacity to support transformation processes, as well as flexible and supportive administrative practices,” Prof Fourie said.

He said the UFS management understood the urgency of transformation in the current democratic South Africa and the changing global environment and appealed to staff and students to participate fully in drafting the Transformation Plan for the UFS.

“Transformation at the UFS has been and will continue to be a process with many facets that seek to enhance excellence in all spheres of university life, and is much more than merely ensuring employment equity,” he said.

Prof Fourie said: “We have reached a historic moment in the life of the UFS where innovative thinking and bold steps yet again are necessary because failure is not an option.”

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
4 February 2005

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