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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

SRC Arts and Culture speaks up
2015-03-17

"Stagedoor was an absolute success," says fourth-year medical student, Stefan van der Westhuizen and SRC member for arts and culture.  

 

"I've always been a diverse person and exposed myself to many things."

 

Raised in Vanderbijlpark near Johannesburg, Stefan has always had a passion for arts and culture.

 

"It's a platform where students express so much. Stagedoor is where you can see students express their commentary on what is happening on campus and feel like it’s almost a safe zone."

 

Stefan’s year on the SRC brought about a new format to rotations. Residences paired with each other, while the new 'outdoor' interactions made it possible for residence and off-campus students to interact with rotations.

 

"I was most proud of the rotations that took place even at the Agricultural Building. There was some great interaction," he said.

 

Stefan said the idea was to fix things.

 

“Not much had changed with Stagedoor when I got into office, even ticket sales were decreasing. I wanted to get students amped about it again."

 

A different element of Stagedoor 'outdoor' was to try to get spontaneity, and to try to get away from residences doing the same plays, but get them out of their comfort spot.

 

“When we heard the results, we lit up with excitement because we didn't have the usual winners,” Stefan said.

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