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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

President of Spelman College delivered Second Annual Reconciliation Lecture
2013-08-12

 

Dr Beverly Daniel Tatum
12 August 2013

Dr Beverly Tatum lecture (pdf)
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The United States have much to learn from South Africa about reconciliation. This is according to Dr Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, the oldest college for African American women in the US. Delivering the Second Annual Reconciliation Lecture on our Bloemfontein Campus, Dr Tatum –an internationally-acclaimed educator and expert on race relations –said five years after the US elected its first black president, the country still finds it difficult to make peace with the painful truth of its past.

Drawing inspiration from a speech made by former president Nelson Mandela at the adoption of the South African constitution in 1996, Dr Tatum said it requires courage to engage in a meaningful way with those we have been socialised to mistrust.

Dr Tatum highlighted the shooting of the US teenager Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Florida in an incident many attributed to racial profiling. The unarmed Martin, while out walking in the evening to buy a snack, was accosted and shot by neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman who suspected him to be a potential thief. 

“How do we move beyond stereotypes to more authentic knowledge of one another?” she posed the question to a packed Reitz Hall in the Centenary Complex. 

Dr Tatum, author of the critically-acclaimed books, Can We Talk about Race? and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? said we have to be brave enough to have our assumptions challenged. 

“If we want a better society, one characterised by strength, trust and unity, we must interrupt the cycle and there is no better place to do it than at a university like this one, where the next generation of leaders is being prepared. But it requires intentionality. It takes practice.”

During her two-day visit, she also met with postgraduate students from the Faculty of Education to discuss social cohesion at schools. She also took part in a roundtable discussion with educators from the UFS and other universities, deliberating the topicLeading with/for/against differences on university campuses.

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