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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

Universal Access and Universal Design approach align UFS with international standards
2015-08-11

Making mobility for students with disabilities easier, First Car Rental representatives hand over the brand new Toyota Quantum to Hestie Veitch, Head of CUADS.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) launched successfully on 24 July 2015. The objective was “to make more people on campus and from the greater UFS community aware of the services that we provide, and to spread the word about Universal Access.”

“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. Thus, the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the CUADS in support of the social model of disability,” said Hetsie Veitch, former Head of the Centre.

Implementing the Universal Access and Universal Design approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards.

Mingling with the experts

Vendors from across the country displayed their products, and offered demonstrations of functional gadgets and essentials at the event.

Marita Erlank from Sensory Solutions demonstrated how to operate the specialised scanner, which converts printed material to enlarged electronic text and audio, using the Open Book software.

Representing the university’s Sign Language Student Association were Carla Bester, Elrie de Toit and Tebogo Chabangu. To support Deaf Awareness Month (September), theyplan to dedicate a weekto facilitating free workshops for students not registered for the module.

David Greenland and his teamwere also present as part of a Wheelchair Appreciation Month campaign. On 1 September2015,the group of students will raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by mobility-impaired persons by spending the day in wheelchairs.

The day ended on a festive note, by courtesy of the First Car Hire Rental Company. A brand-new Toyota Quantum was handed over as a long-term rental, enabling students of the university to travel between campuses free of charge.

CUADS aims to continue transforming the UFS into a universally-accessible environment by collaborating with internal and external stakeholders. The launch marks a significant step towards Universal Access and Design.

 

 

 

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