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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

Prof Jeffrey Sachs presented with honorary doctorate at Spring Graduation Ceremony
2015-10-01

Prof Jeffrey Sachs (centre) with Prof Philippe Burger,
Head of Department: Economics (left), and
Prof HJ Kroukamp, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and
Management Sciences (right).

Photo: Charl Devenish

“Quality education is the best accelerator for sustainable growth. Universities have a unique role to play in this regard,” Prof Jeffrey Sachs said during a lecture he presented at the University of the Free State (UFS) Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. He gave an insightful overview of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The 17 SDGs replace the Millennium Development goals of the past 15 years. In a major achievement, 193 countries will sign the goals at the United Nations (UN) in New York on 25 September 2015.

Prof Sachs is the director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet professor of Sustainable Development, and professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also a special advisor to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, and director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Another accolade now added to his résumé is an honorary doctorate in Economics conferred on him by the UFS at the Spring Graduation Ceremony on 17 September 2015 for outstanding achievements and contribution to academia.

“South Africa is not achieving sustainable development. It has the highest inequality in the world with high unemployment among the youth. Quality education is the best accelerator for growth,” Prof Sachs said. He used the high education investment in Korea as an example of that country’s growth. Prof Sachs added that the government cannot achieve the SDGs on its own. “It is important for the country and universities to take on the goals. Universities can apply pressure, influence and provide solutions.”

 

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