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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 hosts international conference on palynology - tribute to Prof Louis Scott
2014-07-23

 

Prof Louis Scott

Some of the world’s eminent palaeontologists and palynologists gathered at the University of the Free State (UFS) to attend a conference held in the honour of one of our own.

Prof Louis Scott, one of South Africa’s leading palynologists and former chairman of the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS, recently retired. In recognition of his great contribution to promoting palynology, an international symposium was held from 7 – 11 July 2014 at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Palynology is the study of pollen grains and spores in archaeological findings.

The symposium, ‘From Past to Present – Changing Climates, Ecosystems and Environments of Arid Southern Africa. A Tribute to Louis Scott’, featured the works and findings of researchers from South Africa, USA, UK, Israel and Tanzania.

Prof Francis Thackeray from the Institute of Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand delivered the keynote address. He said South Africa has a rich palaeontological heritage relating to human evolution within the late Pliocene, Pleistocene and Holocene.

Prof Thackeray said that the “identification and quantification of changes in climate and habitat are essential for assessing evolutionary processes associated with hominine species in the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo. Attempts have been made to quantify changes in palaeotemperature and moisture using multivariate analysis of pollen spectra from sites such as Wonderkrater.”

Prof Thackeray dedicated his address to Prof Scott.

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