UL Suspends Classes - After Students Clashes
“Absolutely, no one will be allowed on the campuses of the university until further notice from the UL administration,” was the decision by the University Administration following last Thursday’s violent ‘running battles’ between two opposing campus-based political parties.
In a statement announcing the closure of the University with immediate effect last Friday, the administration ordered that all students and visitors leave the Capitol Hill and Fendell campuses until otherwise ordered. The statement was issued in Monrovia under the signature of Dr. S. Momolu Getaweh, Vice President for UL Relations.
In another development, students at the core of the weeklong violent demonstration on the main campus of the University will be expelled upon the arrival of UL President Dr. Emmet Dennis in the country.
Making the disclosure last Friday night during the Golden Image Award ceremony in Monrovia, UL Vice President Wadeh Elliot-Brownell described the behavior of the students as unwholesome, noting that such will no longer be tolerated because the UL was an institution that trains leaders and seen as a “diamond” in the eyes of the public.
“The University of Liberia is like diamonds among which are broken glasses; but I can assure you that those broken glasses will be pulled out upon the arrival of Dr. Dennis in the country on Monday,” Dr. Brownell said in angry mood last Friday night at the Monrovia City Hall.
She described the negative action of the students as a serious embarrassment to the University and the entire nation. Memories of Liberia’s rebel wars returned to the minds of hundreds of Monrovians when students of the University of Liberia engaged each other in violent street-battles, looting, attacking and destroying properties.
More than a week ago, students holding memberships with the UL campus-based Student Unification Party or SUP and a Coalition of the Students Integration Movement or SIM and Students Democratic Alliance or STUDA were engaged in violent ‘running battles’ on the Fendell and main campuses of the University, as well as the streets in a bid to subdue each other ahead of the University of Liberia Student Union or ULSU elections scheduled to have taken place last Friday on the main campus.
As if there was no guidance, in terms of the presence of the authorities of the University, the students exhibited the attitudes of ‘rebels’, looting, brutally attacking and throwing stones at perceived associates of the other, as well as journalists, visitors and other innocent students.
The rebel-styled riots even disrupted normal campus and academic activities on Thursday as if that institution was not the bedrock of intellectualism. The ruling Student Unification Party or SUP barricaded the main entrance of the UL auditorium, disallowing the scheduled presidential debate with the opposition SIM-STUDA Coalition or COSS.
Thursday’s uncontrollable campus violence began with “bitter exchanges”, among supporters of the two groups, accompanied by ‘stone-throwing’, as other students, petite traders and visitors ran confused in different directions, while staff of the university rushed indoors for safety. Supporters of the coalition (COSS) brutally attacked our reporter, destroying his camera beyond recognition on grounds that they did not want their ‘rebel attitudes’ exposed.
The reporter was capturing the destruction of the SUP Flag by rioters of the coalition who were chanting rebel and victory slogans after temporarily chasing their ruling party (SUP) counterparts out of the main campus at about 1pm. The riot further intensified following the return of a reinforced contingent of SUP.
The ruling party is reported to have tactically avoided the debate with opposition presidential candidate Daniel P. Charles and his running mate on grounds that they were both break-away officials of the UL student leadership or ULSU.
They were perceived as possible and serious threats to the candidates of the ruling Student Unification Party, Patrick Sowah. The debates and elections, however, were never held on Thursday and Friday due to the violence.
Similar violence Last Wednesday injured several other students and onlookers, and damaged three moving vehicles. Police on Wednesday arrested ten students following another bloody encounter between SUP and COSS.
Police Spokesman George Bardue named the ‘rebel’ students arrested as Isaac Williams, George Sallay, Gayflor Flomo, Clifford Nyenpan and George Yokaneh. Other are Prince Magbenie, Emmanuel Gbawaquinga, RawlinJardia and Morris Bamba.
Except for the victory of Independent Candidate Kwame Clement in 1981, SUP has dominated UL Campus politics for the past 40 years as the ruling establishment.