NUSS takes stands for students’ welfare amidst university policies

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By Mohamed Bangura

The National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS) convened with various heads of educational institutions across the country on Tuesday 30thApril, at the Freetown Auditorium Hall to articulate the specific grievances of students and outline the demands of the union regarding the situation.

Addressing the press at the event, NUSS President Rex Bonapha highlighted a series of grievances raised by students regarding unfair charges for services such as library access, internet connectivity, and recreational facilities, which are either unavailable or inadequate.

“We cannot allow our students to continue being exploited in this manner. It is unacceptable for universities to demand payment for services that they are not delivering. We demand transparency and accountability from university administrations,” President Bonapha asserted, echoing the sentiments of many students across the nation.

The focus of NUSS’s advocacy extends beyond monetary concerns to encompass broader issues affecting students’ academic progression.

President Bonapha condemned the University of Sierra Leone’s new policy, which prohibits students from advancing to the final year with a reference. He criticized the university for implementing the policy midway through exams, causing unnecessary stress and confusion among students.

While the University of Sierra Leone defends the policy as necessary for maintaining academic standards, many students and supporters of the union argue for more equitable alternatives. Negotiations between the university and the student union remain tense, with President Bonapha urging affected students to remain patient as the union continues to engage with the authorities.

President Bonapha emphasized NUSS’s commitment to engaging with university administrations to address these issues, warning of a potential national protest if necessary.

Journalist and gender activist Asma James commended NUSS leadership for their initiative in addressing student welfare concerns. She drew attention to the pervasive issue of “sex for grades” on campuses, highlighting the challenges faced by female students who are coerced into sexual relationships with male lecturers.

“Sex for grades is an everyday occurrence,” James stated, emphasizing the need for NUSS to take decisive action against this form of exploitation. She pledged her support in advocating against sex for grades, noting that while incidents of rape have decreased, the phenomenon of sex for grades remains prevalent and often overlooked.

As negotiations between NUSS and university officials continue, the union remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for students’ rights and demanding fair treatment from educational institutions across the country. With the support of activists like Asma James, NUSS aims to effect meaningful change and ensure a safer and more equitable learning environment for all students.

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