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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

Pursuit of excellence a strong focus for incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor
2017-02-06

Description: Official opening 2017 Tags: Official opening 2017

Prof Francis Petersen, the incoming
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS,
shared his future plans for the university
with staff during the official opening.
Photo: Johan Roux

Video clip
Photo gallery

The newly elected Chairperson of the UFS Council, Mr Willem Louw, and Prof Francis Petersen, the incoming Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, were welcomed at this year’s official opening of the academic year which took place at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) on 3 February 2017.  

Prof Petersen, who will start his tenure at the UFS on 1 April 2017, was introduced to staff by the Acting Rector, Prof Nicky Morgan. Prof Petersen shared his future plans for the UFS with staff.

His vision for the UFS spells excellence. Among others, he seeks to establish an academic culture of excellence, underpinned by the pillars of diversity and inclusivity. “It is important that there should be respect for different convictions,” he said.

“The UFS should be a place where everyone feels welcome; a strong sense of belonging is needed. Staff and students should feel that they would like to make a contribution to make the UFS a strong university,” he said.

In order to address the institutional climate issue, Prof Petersen suggests that attention be given to the curriculum as well as transformation of the research culture. Research outputs should be expanded and diversified. Inclusivity from a community engagement perspective is also needed. “The things we are good at and in which we excel should be the anchors impacting our academic enterprise,” he said.

In terms of the physical environment, he said that spaces should be welcoming for students. “It is important that we sit with students to get their views and listen to their concerns,” Prof Petersen said.

To promote transformation at the university, the UFS management team is busy working on an integrated transformation plan to be submitted to Council in June 2017. As part of this process, consultations will be held with staff and students in order to incorporate their perspectives and convictions in the plan as well.

“It is important that there should be
respect for different convictions.”

Furthermore, it is important for Prof Petersen that the Qwaqwa and South Campuses should be more integrated with the Bloemfontein Campus. “The UFS is one university with three locations. The fact that it is one university should be reflected in our actions, attentions, and thoughts. Although there are geographical differences, all three campuses should receive the same resources and should deliver the same quality outputs,” he said.

Prof Petersen ended his speech by returning to the importance of academic excellence. “With the Academic Project we always strive for excellence. To achieve academic excellence, the focus is on both academic and support staff. In order to reach our goal, all staff should produce work of superior quality,” he said.

“I am a good listener who is outcome driven, with a vision that includes: diversity, inclusivity, academic excellence, and innovation”, Prof Petersen concluded.  

 

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