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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

Crossing borders, merging boundaries
2014-02-25


Photo: Johan Roux

Senior and first-year international students recently experienced the warm embrace of the university. The Office for International Affairs and the SRC International Affairs hosted a welcoming gala dinner for their students.

SRC member: International Student Council, Brian Hlongwane, emphasised why this group is so important to the university – helping to ensure the international students feel that they are an integral part of our three campuses.

Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs, encouraged these students to immerse themselves in campus life in order to help build bridges between cultures. “Own your space, engage in and facilitate conversations around issues at this university. Do not hold back and become a spectator, know that you have the same responsibilities as any registered student at the UFS,” Buys said.

Dineo Gaofhiwe-Ingram, Head of the Office for International Affairs, spoke about the complexities of the country that international students now face. She urged students to find their role in the student community across the three campuses. In addition, they need to know their rights as well as their responsibilities. “You all deserve to be treated, and taken well care of, like any other registered student on this campus. Nothing should set you apart from the rest,” Gaofhiwe-Ingram stressed.

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