STATESMAN OPINION: TEMPER JUSTICE WITH MERCY, KNUST, AND TALK TO YOUR STUDENTS Featured

By STATESMAN October 24, 2018 1638 0

Over the weekend and into last Monday, Ghana awoke to news of an embarrassing incident involving students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) going on the rampage, resulting in injuries and damage to property.

Amid the pandemonium, a female worker was abused and several vehicles and motorbikes were smashed and set alight.

Female students were also reportedly attacked, some of them almost choking to death. Fortunately, most were rescued from the vandals.

An authoritative media source said that the students calmed down only after soldiers were despatched to join colleague police officers on campus. It was at this point that the students backed down and began to flee.

Grievance at a tangent

According to reliable reports, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) had called for a peaceful demonstration to protest the cancellation of rights to observe certain traditions at Unity Hall.

Also in dispute were other social activities and changes to lodging arrangements at Unity and University, previously male single-sex halls but now mixed.

While most students began demonstrating peacefully, other elements went off at a tangent, causing mayhem, injury and damage to property.

Irked by the excesses, the KNUST authorities, together with the Regional Security Council, invited police and soldiers into the fray, arresting the ringleaders and closing down the university indefinitely.

The government then promised to intervene and sent the Honourable Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to find a solution to the impasse. In the meantime, students were sent home to allow the university and police investigations to continue.

Hooliganism

We at the Daily Statesman unequivocally condemn the acts of hooliganism which led to injury and damage, reportedly at huge cost.

The acts of arson, looting, vandalism and rebellion against constituted authority were unacceptable.

As the students themselves will understand, they cannot work as if they were above the law, or a law unto themselves regarding the disputed matters. That is why they should have striven to exhaust all available channels of redress.

Unfortunately, they allowed the beast, instead of the brains in their head, to get the better of them. This resulted in a demeaning of the initial processes of engagement and consensus which would have benefited both them and the university authorities.

Student excess

We however wish to urge the Minister of Education and his department, together with the school authorities, to temper justice with mercy in handling this situation.

Deterrent measures must be put in place simultaneously to avert future acts of hooliganism and student excess, not only at KNUST and other public universities, but also at private tertiary institutions in all parts of the country.

We believe clearly criminal cases must be seen in that light, but pure student excess be treated humanely, all the while sounding a note of caution that the country will not countenance a repeat of any such acts of insubordination.

More importantly, we believe that the negligence or weak leadership that culminated in the protests must be addressed once and for all, so that our students do not always feel compelled to react.

Our young people must not always be the butt of university officials’ inertia, especially in managing facilities which should be for the benefit of all students.

Editor's note: A correction was made to this story on 24 October to make it clear that the change in single-sex accommodation applies to both Unity and University Halls.

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Last modified on Friday, 03 May 2019 00:51

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