KNUST authorities have reversed four policies after students protest against ‘a culture of oppression and disrespect’ turned violent Monday. The reversals were contained in a statement issued by the Student Representative Council and signed by Kelvin Sah who is SRC President.
It followed negotiations between the university authorities and the Student Representative Council as the school enters day three of its closure.
As part of several concessions made by university management, there is an agreement to reinstate constitutionally elected Executives of Unity and University Halls of Residence who were summarily removed from office by the university authorities.
The student leaders who are third-year students were deemed unfavoured by the university authorities who subsequently installed first-year students as replacements.
But the affected student leaders can return to their leadership roles and in a further concession, their residential status has been restored after they were thrown out of the main campus.
There is also a return to the practice of allowing each hall to schedule its own hall week celebrations cancelled by the authorities in favour of a consolidated celebration by all the halls of residence.
The university management has agreed to allow student associations to operate their own accounts after all student bodies had their accounts consolidated.
In a triumph of student activism, the students have also secured a complete lifting of the ban on jamborees better known as ‘morale’, a cacophonous singing, chanting and drumming which authorities tried a crackdown.
That crackdown resulted in student brutalities and clashes with the school’s internal security. The most recent brutalities occurred last Saturday leaving 11 injured.
Within 48 hours of the incident, the SRC embarked on a peaceful protest which quickly turned violent leading to damage to dozens of vehicles and school properties.
Forced to close down, the university authorities have been put on the back foot as several students have vented their frustration in the media.
They complained of being caned by lecturers while others were made to kneel in the rain for disregarding a ban on jamborees.
More than 48 hours after the demonstration, the government acknowledged a breakdown of trust between the students and school authorities and announced it had dissolved the university council replacing it with an interim body.
The fate of Vice-Chancellor Prof. Obiri Danso remains shaky as the interim body could seal his fate in the coming days.
In a statement by the SRC, the student leaders indicated they have no position on the fate of the Vice-Chancellor who is widely known by the students as ‘Kumasi Adolf Hitler’.
The statement stressed their focus on resolving issues that generated the toxic atmosphere at Ghana’s second largest public university.
They noted the school’s internal security apparatus has become a source of human rights abuse and have gained assurances from the university management to reorient their personnel to ‘know their limits’.
The statement also said as part of reconciliation and healing, the university authorities have resolved to move away from a punitive approach to resolving the conflict with the students.
Read the full statement from the SRC below
THE WAY FORWARD: PROGRESS MADE BY SRC AND UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT IN NEGOTIATIONS SO FAR.
First of all we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all students for supporting the struggle to register our concerns on 22″° October 2018 and complying with the directive from the Regional Security, stating that all students return to their homes until further notice, and also to the international students who have remained on campus throughout these past days. We want to affirm that the KNUST-SRC still has as its main focus, ensuring that all students are safe, and are in a good state to be educated in freedom.
In light of recent events that transpired on campus, the SRC in its continued pursuit of a fasting solution to the impasse between students and university management, we have engaged the management to address the following issues and these are the decision reached on them:
1. Return to previous hall/college week celebration schedules. All hall celebrations will be celebrated separately.
2. Open engagement with students regularly (Have an open forum with students to get to know their concerns). Also, students will be treated with respect and dignity – unnecessary harassment from any quarters in their residential life will be promptly attended to.
3. Reverse decision to consolidate/centralise all student association accounts.
4. Complete lift of ban on morale.
5. Accommodate UNITY and UNIVERSITY hall executives. They should be given the respect due them and also recognition to function as constitutionally elected executives.
6. University management to assure students the happenings of student brutality by security personnel will not happen again and ensure safety of students on campus.
7. Re-orientation of campus security personnel. Their limits should be well-defined.
8. University to provide medical care for affected brutalised students.
9. That in light of moving forward a reconciliation approach rather than punitive should be adopted. The end goal of the mediation program is to heal the divides involved.
As the sole and legitimate mouthpiece of students In KNUST, we want to take this opportunity to remind all students that this University is also ours. We must also protect it. And we also have a role to play. To be each other’s keeper and be responsible students.
We want to thank the university management for cooperating, listening and making the necessary efforts to address our concerns. We hope that this new path of mutual respect we are charting sustains.
We therefore call on Government and Regional Security Council to as soon as possible call off the “close down” and let academic work resume. We are grateful for their intervention.
We also want to reiterate that the cause of thislmpas.se remains Student Brutality and not Hall conversion as the media and some others want to make it. And it is not the official position of the SRC and students that the Vice-Chancellor be removed. All we wanted was the issues raised to be addressed and they have been duly addressed. And as such all we seek is for things to be restored to normalcy for academic work to resume.