Why FBC student Union Elections should Hold
July 4, 2019
BY FREDERICK V. KANNEH
Many have viewed the incident that occurred between the “black” and “white” camps on Fourah Bay College (FBC) campus on the very first Students’ Union Elections debate after eight years as a reason to council the said election, but to be frank with you, I am totally an exception to those views.
Let me first of all categorically condemn the ugly incident in its entirety, and further suggest that anyone who is found wanting should face the full force of the law.
However, for over eight to nine years now, FBC has no student representation. When you ask for the reason, they would tell you that it was because the students of the college perpetuated violence during the last election that made the administration to slam ban on student Union Elections. But wait a minute! Is there no disciplinary committee in the college? Are there no set of laws or disciplinary actions that the college shall take against the defaults of the rules and regulations governing student Union Elections on the campus?
I firmly believe that, the University Court is in full operation now, and the said Court is occupied by people with a wealth of experience; people who cannot compromise any wrong doing because they have their integrities to maintain. Simply put, the people that run the affairs of the University Court are more than capable to try any recalcitrant student who wants to disturb the peace of the university during and after elections.
Also, FBC is like any other government institutions which would always use the services of either the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) or Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). Which means in an instance where the administration feels that the intervention of anyone of the two force is need in order to get things straight, they are always at it service. Fourah Bay College is not a wide parameter that would be very difficult for security apparatus to man. In other words, the presence of large security personnel is well enough to send a message home to any unlawful student that they should maintain peace.
In the midst of all these, if the college administration always bans students activities because of the behaviours of others, to me, I take it to be a weakness on the part of the college. This is because if the college had taken strong actions against students who disturb the peace of the college during or after elections, others would take caution.
Again, if the administration always use ban as a solution to solving lawless problems in the college, it means the administration itself does not have any trust in the rules and regulations governing the college. If that is the case, then one would be tempted to say, the college wouldn’t have wasted no time in drafting rules and regulations. Because too many people including myself, I just see that the laws governing the affairs of the college are like toothless bull dogs. How can the administration always use ban action to be the only solution to curb lawlessness on campus?
It is incumbent on every tertiary institution to have students’ representation the world over. And to be specific, all other colleges in Sierra Leone have students representatives including the other two constituent colleges that make up of the University of Sierra Leone ( College of Medicine and Applied Sciences and Institute of Public Administration and Management). If the above assertion is true, then the administrations of all the colleges are compelled by law to allow Students’ Union Elections in their colleges. How can a whole college be without students governing body for over nine to ten years all in the name of students always misbehaving during their elections? Where are the rules and regulations governing the college?
Apparently, in my whole life, I have never seen an election without any form of violence. Which is why there are always disciplinary actions to be taken against any defaulter of electoral laws. Among other punishment are, cancelation of votes, or in some instances, the perpetrators are sue to court, jailed, or fined heavily. We all have witnessed other elections and we knew the outcome. So slamming ban on the whole process is an experience that I am yet to have. Besides, the said violence was not caused by all of the students, which simply means banning the process would definitely infringe on the right of other students who were not part of the incident.
Well what irritates me the most is the fact that some of these authorities always play “clean hands” on the issues of campism in college, as if it has just started overnight. As a matter of fact, I started hearing about the Black and White Camps from my childhood days. Some of these authorities were the very people that created these camps during their college days, and now they are classing it to be the worst practice on earth. Hypocrisy to the highest degree! You would hear them fighting with their consciences. “Well, our days were civilized and better because we knew what we were doing”. Don’t even listen to them! Their days were better because they had administrations that were very robust and fair in dealing with students issues. Their comments and actions against campism have always reminded me of some of the laws that are enforced by different leaders in Sierra Leone to suite their comfort when they are in power, but they would be the same people crying again when the laws are used against them.
What is more sickening is that, the ministry is always ready to take decision for the Fourah Bay College administration when in fact President Bio had categorically said that he was going to put the necessary arrangement in place to repeal the 2005 University Acts. His reason was that he wanted the universities to have their independency by way of taking their own decisions without government interference. The question is why the Ministry of Higher and Technical Education was so quick to intervene with a press release to ban FBC student union elections even though the president is fighting for all universities to run their affairs?
I am against any form of violence on campus, but I am equally against the fact that the university administration is not taking the right action to curb the violence.