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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

First-years at South Campus step into a bright future
2015-02-05

Photo: Stefan Lotter

This is the first step to a bright future.

This was the resounding message that welcomed first-year students to the South Campus. “Remember,” Tshegofatso Setilo, Manager of the University Preparation Programme said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” But please do not get discouraged on your way, she urged, because “this is your first step to a bright future.

In his welcoming message, Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS referred to the South Campus as the giant of the south. “This is one of the trailblazing campuses of the university,” he said. “No doubt what you’ll experience on this campus, you’ll never forget.”

This year, the South Campus boasts with 1 200 first-year students taking part in our University Preparation and Extended Programmes. These programmes allow students – whose matric marks did not reach the required total – the opportunity to study at the University of the Free State (UFS). The result? An astounding rise in pass rates. Some of the students on the South Campus outperform their peers studying at the Bloemfontein Campus, Prof Morgan remarked.

“You’ve got it in yourself. You’ve got the potential to unleash yourself on the world,” Prof Morgan said. You do not always realise the value of something that has come your way, he said. So, every moment you get an opportunity, he advised, use it to shape your future.

Addressing the newcomers’ fears, Prof Morgan urged each student to open themselves to the good and new experiences waiting for them. “When you find yourself in a new space, it always begins with you,” he said. Learn to understand how to live in harmony in different spaces.

Prof Morgan placed great emphasis on his closing remark: “At university, the more questions you seek to have answered – they’re worth more than the answers you have.”

 

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