Students’ Protest Impedes Activities In Monrovia
-Draws Gov’t’s Attention
Aggrieved students of the University of Liberia on Friday interrupted classes and erected roadblocks on the Fendell and Capitol Hill campuses, preventing free movement of people and vehicles.
The students’ action was in response the abrupt closure of registration period for the current semester, which began September 11, 2017; the protestors were drawing the attention of the Liberian Government to put pressure on the school administration to extend the registration period to allow them go through the process.To draw attention, the angry students set ablaze tires near the Foreign Ministry which is being used as a temporary office of the Liberian Presidency since the reign of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The incident caused an annoying traffic jam, thereby impeding normal activities for hours; the situation raised security anxieties.
However, the students later withdrew from the main road and retreated on both campuses following negotiations by senior government officials, including speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers and Police authorities.
This semester has occasioned numerous protest actions on campus. Registration activities at the university for the ongoing semester was announced closed last October. It was, however, reopened on the request of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleafto allow students who had paid their fees complete the registration process.
A second protest was initiated by the students after the second supplementary deadline. Those students held the university’s president, Ophelia Weeks, hostage in the Capitol Hill campus auditorium for hours.
Following another negotiation among student leaders, the former deputy police inspector general for operations, Abraham Kromah, and authorities of the university, another agreement was reached to consider students by November 15 last year.
Following a consultation with the university’s cabinet, Weeks agreed that the process would remain open for all students who made bank deposits of fees by November 25, instead of the 15th.
An authority of the university who granted interview with an online news outlet on condition of namelessness said, although the second supplementary deadline has since elapsed, the registration was still open to allow students who made bank deposits before November 25 to complete their process until February 11.
“From the standing of the university and from the survey and everything that was done, November 25 was a logical time, instead of the 15th of November, so the university opened that process,” he said.
The senior university staff member said, the university’s president also met with student leaders on Wednesday at the Fendell campus and explained to them that reopening the registration exercise would entail other logistical and instructional constraints, with less than three weeks left for final exams.
Already, the source said, the semester has been far delayed because of the many interruptions by student protests, which prevented more than 11,000 registered students from attending classes.
According to him, the University of Liberia is in close consultation with the president’s office for a scheduled board meeting that would determine the next course of action.
The Friday protest was the first under the Administration of incumbent President, George Manneh Weah, although his regime could not take blame for the root cause of the demonstration; it was a product of the past administration.