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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

Prof Mary Kay Blakely from the Missouri School of Journalism (USA) speaks about the age of misinformation
2015-03-10

 

Prof Mary Kay Blakely  

Living in an age where misinformation is as common as loadshedding in South Africa, we all tend to ask who we can trust when reading or hearing the news media.

Prof Mary Kay Blakely from the Missouri School of Journalism (Columbia, USA) presented a public lecture recently entitled The age of misinformation: Who do you trust? at the UFS. She stressed the point of how, with the social media revolution and the rise of the citizen journalist, our news interests of old are being fed by many more new channels, influences, and opinions. This leaves us to question what is still true and what is still objective

For example, Blakely mentioned that “gossip, scandal, and celebrities have always been our fascination – even more so today.”

“But nowadays, we have to become even more critical thinkers.”

During Blakely’s presentation, she stated the harsh reality that objectivity is extremely difficult. True objectivity, which means keeping  yourself completely out of the story you cover, is virtually impossible.

“It is not just about covering both sides of the story. Often, there are far more sides to a story than just two, probably even five.”

Therefore, it comes down to fairness, balance, and truth, which are really important in covering a story. Hence, it is the obligation of the media to be fair, balanced, and truthful while recognising their own biases. 

Prof Mary Kay Blakely – Short Bio:

Prof Mary Kay Blakely is the author of the critically-acclaimed books Wake Me When It's Over, American Mom and Red, White and O So Blue. Her essays on social and political issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, LIFE, and Vogue, among others.

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