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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

Goodwill and unity reigns supreme at official opening
2014-02-07

Video
Transcription: Prof Jonathan Jansen speech

The academic year at the UFS was officially opened by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, at a splendid event with staff at the Bloemfontein Campus. “The UFS is no longer the place it was four years ago. When I arrived here, the place was very much divided. The picture is very different today. Staff and students have come together and are spending time together as friends. A new spirit reigns at the university. People are no longer mad at each other; they talk to each other,” Prof Jansen said.

The reason: students know that they are loved and respected. The people responsible for this – the staff.

Prof Jansen particularly emphasised the capacity of staff members to change and to care. “Change at the UFS is possible because of the positive attitude of staff and students. This creates an atmosphere where students can learn to love and forgive.

“We have reached a new consensus where racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia are wrong. We also address this bad behaviour immediately.

“Another highlight at the UFS is the changes in the academy. Debate is deeper and more progressive. We have the best intellectual debates at the UFS. We are also proud of our young researchers in the Prestige Scholars Programme. We are excited, because in five years’ time we will reap the fruits from the efforts of young, as well as older researchers who have worked hard so that we can deliver the best researchers.

“There is another shift in the academic culture on campus with our students increasingly looking academically stronger.

“Besides the capacity of staff to change, they also have a capacity for caring. Projects such as the Staff Fund and the No Student Hungry Programme is doing well, with the NSH Programme raising more than R1 million to feed hungry students,” Prof Jansen said.

At this event, Prof Jansen also gave recognition to the team involved with and working very hard at the Schools Change Project, which is largely responsible for the Free State’s good matric results. With the inspiration of the staff involved with this project, a difference is made to schools in the Free State.

“Our staff members do more than is stipulated in their contracts. Our staff members do their jobs from the heart,” Prof Jansen said.

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