UFS has come a long way - Jansen

Professor Jonathan Jansen on Friday said the University of the Free State was blessed with a racial crisis.

Prof Jonathan Jansen. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Friday said his tertiary institution was blessed with a crisis.

Professor Jonathan Jansen was referring to the racial storm that erupted at the university in 2008.

He was addressing the media in Cape Town, saying the institution has come a long way since then.

In 2008, a video surfaced of five black workers on their knees, eating food which had been urinated on.

The offensive footage was made by four white students.

RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler made the video in protest against racial integration at the university.

The council of the university closed the Reitz hostel following the incident.

The four students were expelled from the institution and criminally charged.

They pleaded guilty to a charge of crimen injuria in 2010 and were each fined R20,000 or 12 months in jail.

They were also sentenced to a further six months in prison, suspended for five years.

Jansen took over the reins the following year.

He said the crisis gave UFS the opportunity to talk about behaviour.

The Vice-Chancellor invited the four students back to finish their studies.

Jansen has been at the forefront of reconciliation at the institution.

He said the university was now racially integrated and academic standards have been raised, a crucial component of a university that produces young people, who will ultimately determine the country's future.