The University of the Free State will take on student safety more firmly. This was the promise of Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen during a meeting with various members of the media this morning.
During the discussion Prof Petersen expressed that the institution would focus on off-campus safety and issues related to gender based violence. This comes after the country was shaken by a rise in reported cases of young women as well as men becoming victims of violent attacks in recent months.
“Gender based violence for us as a sector is of major concern and this includes violence in totality. The incidences that have been reported are only the ones that we know of. I am sure that there a many that we are not even aware of,” he explained.
The university has made a number of security upgrades to minimise the likelihood of violent incidences on campus. “On campus we have a very extensive safety programme which includes increasing security visibility, surveillance system upgrades, there are red alert buttons spread across campus and we are looking into increasing the number of lights we have,” said Prof Petersen.
With a large number of students living off campus UFS is also taking steps to increase student safety outside its fences. “Off-campus safety remains a challenge. The university has a contract with a security company that will focus on the hotspots in the surrounding areas. Also when we have examination periods we have private security guards who patrol within the vicinity of about 3kms from campus,” said the Rector.
Prof Petersen also expressed that the university is well prepared for the upcoming year-end exams in November.