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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 adopts advanced institutional approach to disability, launches CUADS
2015-07-14

Lize Botha, Louzanne Coetzee and her guide-dog Oakley, and David Nkwenkwezi.

Photo: Eye Poetry Photograpy

The approach to support for students with disabilities at South African universities has remained largely one-dimensional, focusing on the support and accommodation of individual students. Implementing the Universal Access (UA) and Universal Design (UD) approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards. Such an approach addresses challenges arising as a result of the interaction between functional limitations and the social, attitudinal and physical environment of students with disabilities. The Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) in support of the social model of disability. 

Hetsie Veitch, Head of CUADS and her team, have dedicated the past four years to the center’s physical revamping and systematic reconstruction to be officially launched in an Open Day event on the Bloemfontein Campus.


Details of the event:

Date: Friday 24 July 2015
Time:10:00-16:00
Venue: CUADS and Sasol Library foyer
Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Exploring the dimensions of UA and UD


UA and UD facilitate holistic support for students with visual, mobility, hearing, learning, and other impairments. With the former providing a paradigm shift in disability management and support, the latter warrants the formation of a universally accessible environment.

According to Veitch, the focus moves away from the person with the disability, someone who ‘needs to be helped’, to the environment in which that person needs to function.

Since the center was founded in 2001, structural and systematic developments have occurred in order to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment that grants students opportunities to be successful in their academic endeavours.

UA endorses the UFS Mission Statement of human togetherness, advancing social justice by creating multiple opportunities for students to access the university, and promoting innovation, distinctiveness, and leadership in both academic and human pursuits.The UFS is committed to be a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive learning institution, an environment where optimal learning for a diverse student community thrives.

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