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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

Colloquium probes solutions for student hunger
2015-08-03

While higher education is deemed necessary for future financial security, high tuition and accommodation fees, as well as increasing food prices, are forcing students to drop out of university.

Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the University of the Free State (UFS), says university campuses are not often associated with food insecurity, but, due to the increase in first-generation students and students of low-income households receiving tertiary education, student hunger at some of the country’s prominent campuses needs urgent intervention.

On 14 August 2015, the University of the Free State (UFS) will host the first higher education colloquium in the country, on food insecurity on university campuses.  Best practices will be shared, exploring the available research on student food insecurity at institutions of higher education. Programme of the colloquium.

A study by the UFS Department of Nutrition and Dietetics found that as many as 60% of students on our campuses were food-insecure, and experienced hunger. This study was the first of its kind in South Africa, and led to the No Student Hungry Bursary Programme (NSH) at the UFS. The level of severe food insecurity reported was much higher than that reported in Australia, New York, and Hawaii by the only other three studies that have been done.

“The UFS is not the only campus struggling with food insecurity,” say Dr Van den Bergh.

“The general misconception is that a student, having money for studies, should have money for food. Funders need to reassess bursaries, keeping issues such as food insecurity in mind, and not just focusing on tuition.”

Bursaries, especially government funding, became easily available to bridge the inequality gap in our country.

“Although bursaries pay for tuition, many students have no resources for food. Universities currently have a 50% drop-out rate currently, with many students dropping out due to poverty.”

 

What is NSH?

 

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