Opinions Wed, 24 Oct 2018

KNUST should learn lessons

People have their own beliefs and principles and therefore individual differences exist in all societies which make conflicts inevitable, but also highly avoidable.

Last Monday, for the first time in many years, catastrophic violence erupted out of a student demonstration on the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology (KNUST).

That unfortunate incident resulted in the destruction of many school properties. Vehicles owned by teaching and non-teaching staff were also badly vandalised by an irate mob of students who vented their anger on the school authorities.

It took a combined force of heavily armed security personnel from the police and the military to bring the situation under control.

In the end, the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) had no choice but to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the campus to prevent reprisal attacks.

Subsequently, the students have been made to vacate the school, while academic activities have been put on hold indefinitely.

On social media, on the airwaves, among other media platforms, the blame game is still raging, leaving no room for any side of the coin to take full responsibility for what can only be described as needless and avoidable mayhem.

The Daily Graphic finds the violence most unfortunate because under no circumstance should it have been allowed to get to that level where tempers rose so high that neither of the parties involved was willing to back down on its position.

As it stands now, we will not lay blame at the doorstep of any of the parties involved, except to say that what happened and its attendant consequences clearly demonstrate a lack of leadership on the side of both the students and the management of the country’s foremost technology and science university.

We expected the management of the university to have picked the signals many weeks ago and taken the necessary steps to ensure that what happened did not arise at all.

The school authorities should simply have cast their minds back to similar incidents that had resulted in mass destruction of properties and, in some instances, injury to innocent people (lecturers and students).

Again, we expected the student leadership to have demonstrated tact and caution in their desire to have their voices heard about what they described as harassment and unfair treatment meted out to them by the security of the university.

Much as we admit that sometimes the language for the authorities to act is the show of force, we also expect that those who find themselves in such situations will carefully weigh the options and, in particular, the consequences of their actions, before taking a step.

What happened at the KNUST has brought academic work to a needless halt at a time when students were busily preparing for their interim assessments (IAs) and other project works for presentation to the authorities.

Undoubtedly, the two sides are also going to face some financial burdens.

For instance, the school authorities would have to spend scarce resources to restore some of the destroyed properties to ensure that academic work resumes.

On the part of the students, they would have to sit at home for extra days or weeks, feeding on the money they would have spent during their stay on campus.

This means that on their return, they would have to find more money to fend for themselves.

But while the blame game continues, it is our fervent hope that a more amicable solution will be found to what has happened to enable academic work to resume.

We only hope that the lessons drawn from this unfortunate incident will not be lost on both sides.

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh
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