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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

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans
2006-05-19

From the left are Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector: Academic Planning), Prof Gerhardt de Klerk (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities), George Weideman and Prof Bernard  Odendaal (acting head of the UFS  Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French). 
Photo (Stephen Collett):

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans

On the survival of a language a persistent and widespread misconception exists that a “language will survive as long as people speak the language”. This argument ignores the higher functions of a language and leaves no room for the personal and historic meaning of a language, said the writer George Weideman.

He delivered the D.F. Malherbe Memorial Lecture organised by the Department Afrikaans at the University of the Free State (UFS). Dr. Weideman is a retired lecturer and now full-time writer. In his lecture on the writer’s role and responsibility with regard to language, he also focused on the language debate at the University of Stellenbosch (US).

He said the “as-long-as-it-is spoken” misconception ignores the characteristics and growth of literature and other cultural phenomena. Constitutional protection is also not a guarantee. It will not stop a language of being reduced to a colloquial language in which the non-standard form will be elevated to the norm. A language only grows when it standard form is enriched by non-standard forms; not when its standard form withers. The growth or deterioration of a language is seen in the growth or decline in its use in higher functions. The less functions a language has, the smaller its chance to survive.

He said Afrikaans speaking people are credulous and have misplaced trust. It shows in their uncritical attitude with regard to the shifts in university policies, university management and teaching practices. Afrikaners have this credulity perhaps because they were spoilt by white supremacy, or because the political liberation process did not free them from a naïve and slavish trust in government.

If we accept that a university is a kind of barometer for the position of a language, then the institutionalised second placing of Afrikaans at most tertiary institutions is not a good sign for the language, he said.

An additional problem is the multiplying effect with, for instance, education students. If there is no need for Afrikaans in schools, there will also be no  need for Afrikaans at universities, and visa versa.

The tolerance factor of Afrikaans speaking people is for some reasons remarkably high with regard to other languages – and more specifically English. With many Afrikaans speaking people in the post-apartheid era it can be ascribed to their guilt about Afrikaans. With some coloured and mostly black Afrikaans speaking people it can be ascribed to the continued rejection of Afrikaans because of its negative connotation with apartheid – even when Afrikaans is the home language of a large segment of the previously oppressed population.

He said no one disputes the fact that universities play a changing role in a transformed society. The principle of “friendliness” towards other languages does not apply the other way round. It is general knowledge that Afrikaans is, besides isiZulu and isiXhosa, the language most spoken by South Africans.

It is typical of an imperialistic approach that the campaigners for a language will be accused of emotional involvement, of sentimentality, of longing for bygone days, of an unwillingness to focus on the future, he said.

He said whoever ignores the emotional aspect of a language, knows nothing about a language. To ignore the emotional connection with a language, leads to another misconception: That the world will be a better place without conflict if the so-called “small languages” disappear because “nationalism” and “language nationalism” often move closely together. This is one of the main reasons why Afrikaans speaking people are still very passive with regard to the Anglicising process: They are not “immune” to the broad influence that promotes English.

It is left to those who use Afrikaans to fight for the language. This must not take place in isolation. Writers and publishers must find more ways to promote Afrikaans.

Some universities took the road to Anglicision: the US and University of Pretoria need to be referred to, while there is still a future for Afrikaans at the Northwest University and the UFS with its parallel-medium policies. Continued debate is necessary.

It is unpreventable that the protest over what is happening to Afrikaans and the broad Afrikaans speaking community must take on a stronger form, he said.

 

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