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Safety concerns make SU reconsider evening exams

The Stellenbosch University Academic Planning Committee decided on Wednesday 14 May 2014 to propose to Senate that tests and exams should no longer be scheduled in the evening in the light of serious safety incidents over the past months.  

"Such a decision will have far-reaching consequences for the academic functioning of the University and it is a pity that crime should have such an impact, but we no longer have a choice," says Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice-Rector: Learning and Teaching.

The recommendation to Senate follows after an incident in which a student, Ms Ilzé-Dene Oberholzer, was pulled into a vehicle on the municipal parking area adjacent to the Eikestad Mall on Monday evening.

In comment to the media on Tuesday the University management said that it is of great concern that such an incident did occur. Ms Oberholzer is being assisted by the SU Crisis Service.

"The Management of Stellenbosch University shares the concerns of its students, their parents and town residents over crime trends. We welcome student initiatives to raise greater awareness of the crime situation in Stellenbosch and in South Africa. In this regard we appreciate the protest action planned for Friday on the Stellenbosch campus."

Prof Schoonwinkel added that a distinction should be made between incidents where students like Ms Oberholzer was abducted despite the fact that she acted responsibly, and incidents where students' own actions put them at risk. Unfortunately, many students are under the erroneous perception that Stellenbosch is safeguarded against the crime and criminal elements that plague the rest of the country.

"As a result students and residents unnecessarily become victims of crime through their own actions. It is a reality that the Stellenbosch campus is an open campus that is not isolated from the rest of the town or the country. The University and its Campus Security Service are doing their utmost to create a safe learning, living and working environment with safety patrols, access control, contracted security services, after-hours student transport (commuter buses), alarm monitoring and response, emergency reaction and closed circuit television monitoring. Unfortunately neither the town's law enforcement agencies nor Campus Security can protect students at all times. It is a reality that each student and resident should accept responsibility to ensure that they do not become a soft target for criminals. SU can recommend measures such as the discontinuation of evening tests, but students move around freely on campus and in town in the evenings and during the night."

Prof Schoonwinkel also appealed to students and staff to not walk the streets alone in the evenings, during the night or the early morning hours; to not abuse alcohol and to make use of the Security Service's pedestrian escort service on campus. The emergency number is 021 808-2333 and the number for the University's Crisis Service:  082 557 0880.

"If we work together and take responsibility for ourselves and for each other, we can fight crime effectively," he said.

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