OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL
UNIVERSITY OF SIERRA LEONE
VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL
PROF JONAS A..S. REDWOOD-SAWYERR
Mobile : 00 232 76 670 904
00 232 33 670 904
00 232 30 670 904
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SIERRA LEONE
ON THE RECENT STUDENTS’ DISRUPTION OF LAW AND ORDER
AT FOURAH BAY COLLEGE
TRAINING OUR FUTURE LEADERS
The University of Sierra Leone is specially committed to the training of our future leaders.
To this end the university not only provides opportunity for the students to obtain the most advanced learning in all aspects of the arts, sciences and technology, but also prepares them in the moral areas of obtaining good character, demonstrating integrity and in acting according to the rule of law.
It is essential for national development that citizens obey the laws and direct their activities according to the rules set out to maintain and enhance society by competent authority.
It is in this context that the University wishes to inform the public that the recent disciplinary measures meted out to students for acting contrary to the rules of the University are designed to be reformatory and to ensure that all concerned work together to make the University, one of excellence striving to serve the nation.
The recent disruptions by a section of the students cannot be allowed to set back the progress being made to move the University towards excellence. At a recent University Retreat held in Njala in June, this year, the University reaffirmed its resolve to renew itself, to develop a passion for excellence second to none and to pursue the interests of the nation with discipline, compassion, resolution, and hard work.
The University of Sierra Leone is governed by a Universities Act which clearly spells out procedures for Students Discipline. The Act protects the rights of the students, ensures that procedures are set in place for them to defend themselves when charged with indiscipline, and at the same time preserves law and order.
The current activities of a section of the students on Friday July 3 and Saturday August 4, arise from the decisions of the University Court on Wednesday July 1, on the issue of Student Appeals. The Court considered the report of the Legal and Discipline Committee set up in accordance with the Universities Act to consider appeals and to report to the University Court.
The background is as follows:
1. The University decided that students should vacate the Students hostels which were in dire need of repair, due in a large measure to vandalism by students. This decision was conveyed to the Students and it was met with resistance, threats and ultimatums from the Students.
2. As a final move, the University issued a press release with very wide coverage giving a deadline of 27th April 2012 for the Students to leave the hostels, failing which they would be expelled from the University.
3. The University Authorities were able to identify thirty one students who were charged with various offences of indiscipline including assault on the Warden of Students, and disciplinary penalties were levied
4. The Senate of the University considered the report of the Special Discipline Committee at its meeting on 14th May 2012, and took disciplinary actions in accordance with the Universities Act
5. The Students appealed to His Excellency the President and Chancellor of the University against the disciplinary procedures and consequently the Chancellor met with the Minister of Education Science and Technology, the Pro Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor and Principal and the Registrar. The Pro Chancellor assured His Excellency that the matter was being handled competently by the University Authorities in accordance with the Universities Act.
6. During this period, the Students Union sent out various threatening press releases that bordered on national security.
7. Letters conveying the decisions of the University Senate were sent out to the affected Students and only ten out of the thirty-one appealed in accordance with the Universities Act.
8. A Legal and Discipline Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chairman of the University Court, consisting of Court Members, including a Court member, who is a Lawyer, and the University’s Solicitors. All the appellants were given the opportunity to defend themselves and to call in witnesses according to the law of natural justice as stipulated by the Universities Act.
9. The final report of the Legal and Discipline Committee was considered by the University Court on Wednesday August 1, and final decisions were made.
10. The decisions of the Court took into account the need for compassion, discipline, justice and mercy. In that regard, the ten appellants who appeared before the Committee had their penalties mitigated.
11. Fourah Bay College is currently holding examinations and the actions by a section of the Student Body have resulted in disrupting the examination process.
12. The Students reportedly engaged themselves in the destruction of College property and such destruction was shown on TV on Friday August 3.
13. In response to these developments the President and Executive of the Fourah Bay College Student Union were invited by the Administration on Friday 4th August 2012 at 4 p.m., to explain the reasons leading to the disturbances at the Fourah Bay College campus. The representation from the students included the Presidents, Students Union, FBC and the National Union of Students, and some other members of the FBC and NUS Executive. The Administration was represented by the Vice Chancellor and Principal, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellors, Fourah Bay College and the Institute of Public Administration and Management, The University Registrar, The Dean Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and the Public Relations Officer.
14. At that meeting held in the Vice Chancellor and Principal’s Office the student delegation made it clear that the primary reason for the riot was in solidarity with the students who had been affected by the disciplinary action taken by Court.
15. The President and his entourage were then counselled to advise their constituents to desist from such action and submit their grievances through proper channels.
16. Due to the disturbances and threat to life and property, the Police were called in to handle the issues of law and order.
The University wishes to point out that it is on a forward march for progress to ensure that it meets the needs of the nation and that future leaders are trained in scholarship, integrity, moral courage and respect for law and order
Although the current situation is painful, it must be handled in such a way that the students are trained to be disciplined and become future leaders who will conduct themselves, with total respect for law and order. The section of students concerned must not be encouraged to believe that vandalism and taking the law into their hands will absolve them from the consequences of indiscipline.
It is the conviction of the University that the respect for law and order will be of great benefit to the students, their families and the nation.
The University appeals to the Public to condemn the violence perpetuated by the Students on Friday August 3 and Saturday August 4, and to urge them to respect the rule of law and order to the benefit of the nation.
The University admonishes the section of the students who are attempting to disrupt law and order at Fourah Bay College, not to jeopardize their academic future and that of the law abiding students who are in the majority.
The University urges the law abiding students not to submit to the intimidation of the students who are disrupting law and order at the University but to repudiate indiscipline in all its forms.
The University strongly advises those Students who are disrupting law and order in the university to desist from such action and to cooperate with the Authorities to build up their character to become worthy leaders of society.
Signed this 4th day of August 2012.
Professor Jonas A S Redwood-Sawyerr
The Vice Chancellor and Principal, USL.
Mr Sorie N Dumbuya
The Registrar, USL
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.