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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

Food insecurity at university campuses a growing threat
2015-07-28

Food insecurity on university campuses in South Africa has come to the fore as one of the more pressing subjects that needs to be tackled to ensure the continuing education of disadvantaged students across the country.

On Friday 14 August 2015, the University of the Free State will host the first higher education colloquium on food insecurity on university campuses.  The one-day colloquium will take place during the Arts and Social Justice Week, in collaboration with the UFS’s Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice Best practices will be shared, exploring the available research on student food insecurity at institutions of higher education.

Food insecurity has emerged as a pressing social justice issue affecting students countrywide. Action needs to be taken to promote the academic success of students, who will ultimately contribute to the country’s economic growth. One of the primary focus areas of the colloquium will be to establish a common practice to address this need.  Universities leaders, staff from wellness and social work departments, and SRC members from across the country who have been invited, and are expected to attend, are the University of Pretoria, the Tshwane University of Technology, North West University, UNISA, and the Central University of Technology.

Professor Jonathan Jansen will participate in a panel discussion alongside Ruda Landman and Prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen (HPCSA). This promises to be an inspiring meaningful dialogue, by asking the difficult question:  How do we change the food insecurity situation at universities?

The University of the Free State is currently the country’s leading university in addressing food insecurity on all its campuses through its flagship No Student Hungry Bursary programme, which has funded more than 500 students since it was established in 2011.

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