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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

National 3MT competition held at UFS
2017-03-29

Description: 3MT 2017 Tags: 3MT 2017

The two winners of the Three minute thesis
competition, Andrew Verrijdt (left) and
Kerryn Warren (right).
Photo: Charl Devenish


From Neanderthal hybrid children to eating corn silk as a way of managing kidney diseases, the National Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) captivated the mind.

“We brought the competition to South Africa and hosted the local, regional, and national competitions for the past few years,” said Dr Emmie Smit, organiser of the event. It is an opportunity to raise the profile of postgraduate research and to develop a cross-disciplinary student community to effectively communicate research to a wide audience. The event was founded by the University of Queensland, Australia. The third national 3MT competition took place at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Friday 24 March 2017.

Three minutes and one slide
During the competition, participants had three minutes to explain their master’s or doctoral research and one static PowerPoint slide could be used. “It is very important that this slide works for you. There must be some way the information on the slide connects to what you present,” said Dr Henriette van den Berg, Director of the Postgraduate School at the UFS.
 
Winners grateful for opportunity
“It is an honour and a drive. It is very nice to have this sort of thumbs up,” said Kerryn Warren, winner of the Science category. Her research title was, What did a Human-Neanderthal Child Look Like? “I have been looking at the hybrids between different species and subspecies of mice in order to use them as a model to find out what human hybrids looked like.”

The presentation by Andrew Verrijdt, winner of the Humanities category, entitled Hiding in the Deep: Anonymous Websites for Paedophiles on the ‘Darknet’, gave a glimpse into the mysterious and dangerous realm of the dark web. “I am grateful for the opportunity. Primarily because I think it’s an important topic, and society will benefit by getting the word out there as it is a sensitive topic,” he said. The two winners, both from the University of the Cape Town, won R15 000 each.  A further R30 000 of prize money went to the four runners-up.

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