NB: This post is appearing here at this time because another attempt is being made to break a United students front. Read on.
The university is undoubtedly every Ghanaian student’s dream destination. Over the years, a lot of private universities have sprung up to augment the effort of the few public ones across the country. One phenomenal characteristic of the public universities is the presence of all-male and all-female residential halls on their campuses. There are quite a number of mixed-sex halls but their significance or prominence compared to the single sex halls is quite negligible.
Whilst famous female halls like VOLTA HALL and AFRICA HALL seek to support the fight for women empowerment, their male counterparts who prefer to be referred to as SUPERPOWERS among other things, seek to defend and protect the rights and interests of students. These male halls seem to have created territories for themselves where they rule supreme. UNIVERSITY HALL, popularly known as KATANGA has KNUST as their territory and they reign supreme. COMMONWEALTH HALL holds the reins in University of Ghana, whilst CASELY HAYFORD HALL (CASFORD) dictates the rules on UCC campus.
These three halls especially (VANDAL CITY, KATANGA, and CASFORD) are always in the news. Unfortunately, they are hardly in the news for the good reasons. They have gone through almost all punitive measures that can be found under the strict laws of any tertiary institution but they seem to die hard. The question is why would the university authorities maintain these male halls if all they do is cause mayhem, vandalise properties, harass people and tarnish the hard-won reputations of our public institutions as we are being forced to believe?
A careful and objective look into the activities of these male halls will let one know that they play very vital roles in the lives of students and the universities as a whole. It has become very evident over the years that our Students Representative Councils, the National Union of Ghana Students and its local peripherals and others of that caste have become avenues for grooming entrepreneurs, corrupt leaders and political sycophants of the highest order.
The interests of students have been traded cheaply than a sachet of salt on a cheap tray. The only beam of hope for students nationwide over the years has been these SUPERPOWERS, as they choose to call themselves. Honestly, they have been able to hold the forts despite all the intimidation, victimization and all other kinds of power plays from the authorities that be.
Typical examples are the fight against the infamous residential policy in Legon, spearheaded by Commonwealth; the activities of Katanga leading to the establishment of a students clinic (the first of its kind) and the increase in the number of taxis on campus from 27 to almost 100 and a whole lot of other changes that the presence and long-standing traditions of these halls have brought to bear on the university communities. To sum it up, they have upheld students’ activism. They have equally produced a lot of human resources for this country.
Despite the un-captured and unappreciated good deeds of the superpowers, their existence seems to face an all time risk in the wake of the COMMONWEALTH vrs LEGON saga. Should the authorities succeed, it will mean the collapse of a strong students’ front in our premier university. Prophetically speaking, should it be successful, the other universities will follow suit with supersonic speed and thread-sized excuses and reasons. Should such unfortunate action take place, it would not surprise me that exploitation and gross abuse of student rights and interest would become the order of the day. I pray that such a day never comes.
This is the more reason why students nationwide must come together to lend a hand of support to our brothers in their quest to make sure the truth stands. Despite all their excesses which I admit are unnecessary at times, their demise means the demise of a formidable students’ front. In these times when our SRCs have become political puppets and money-making ventures, we can not afford to see our only saviours crucified for very flimsy reasons.In as much as one would not condone indiscipline on our university campuses, we must not tolerate the incessant exploitation and frequent abuse of students’ rights.
However my advice to the superpowers is that they should be dynamic and change with time. It is very important that though we have long-standing traditions, we polish them to suit accepted standards. It would be very prudent if we use more intellectual approaches when fighting for our rights. The most powerful people in this world are those who are able to operate within the confines of the law without breaking it. When wit and vision are used in the management of these halls which are very volatile, authorities will come to fear and respect students and will not have excuses to use against these halls and students in general. There are very obsolete practices of these halls that are not relevant in today’s world. Until we are ready to do away with some of these not so pleasant practices, we risk being extinguished from the surface of our tertiary institutions.
The case of COMMONWEALTH HALL should also be a well of lessons for all other student bodies that no one is above the law. Indiscipline should not be tolerated in any form. The perpetrators of that alleged disgraceful act should be smoked out and punished. To add to that, it is time we say goodbye to violent rivalries between student bodies. The grey hairs always say a house divided against itself can never stand. It is time we propagate intellectual rivalry and put a stop to nonsensical issues that will draw us to the stone-throwing battlefields. It does not augur well for education in tranquility.
All these happenings should be a wake up call to NUGS and our various SRCs to be up and doing. Students are tired of the boot lickers, the political puppets, the tribal parasites and the intellectual thieves who have invaded our leadership offices and never dream of the interests and grievances of those who put them there. VANDALS, as your motto says, arise and let TRUTH stand on your campus. CASFORDIANS, with truth and courage, defend the cause of students without getting weary or detracted. FELLOW KATANGEES, REST NOT in your quest to see the utopia you always dream of, where students’ right will be respected and not exploited. However, in the process of doing this, do not lose sight of the timeless Biblical counsel; be as gentle as the dove but as wise as the serpent.
NB: This article was originally published in the 22nd July edition of the Daily Graphic.
The writer is a former General Secretary of the Junior Common Room of KATANGA.