Amidst indefinite suspension of classes and breeding tension at the University of Liberia (UL), the Alumni Association is calling on the Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to quickly conduct an investigation into the unfolding event that has stalled the reopening of the institutions.
The association, in a release noted, “The persistent tension has generated and for which has now been heightened by students’ protests that sometimes become violent, does not augur well for the atmosphere of academic freedom, peace and security that Liberia needs in order to successfully pursue her agenda for transformation.”
The UL Alumni Association is of the view that if nothing is done to speedily resolve the ongoing crisis, the situation will further exacerbate and degenerate into a major crisis, thereby creating a serious threat to the peace Liberians enjoy now.
At the same time, the Alumni Association has strongly condemned all acts of violence carried out at the university and perpetrated against Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, Dr. Wede Elliot-Brownell.
It can be recalled that on November 22 last year, a group of students allegedly ransacked Dr. Brownell’s home and took away some valuables.
The student association in a strongest term described the act as “Barbaric”.
It also distanced itself from a strong statement made by Dr. Brownell on December 12 of last year that the University of Liberia is a den of “Academic Criminals.”
According to the Alumni Association, it sees this statement made by the Provost as unfortunate, disappointing, and totally regrettable and a hasty generalization only intended to bring the high-earned reputation of the University to public disrepute, calling on the public not to give it (statement) credence.
Classes at the University of Liberia were suspended late last year when the faculty union led by Clifford Young took the decision to disengage for several reasons and concerns it wants the university administration to address.
Key among the reasons is the immediate resignation of the Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, Dr. Wede Elliot-Brownell, whom the faculty members see as impediment to their progress and progress of the university.
Following the disengagement of faculty members, some disgruntle students also joined the fray, roaming the UL Capitol Hill campus with a symbolic casket made of paper indicating that it is where the Provost will take her final rest in the unfolding crisis.
This was subsequently followed on November 22 by violent action characterized by stone throw which allegedly wounded one of UL’s Police, and the University’s President and the Provost were aided by the Liberian National Police to escape the campus after being confined in the office building for hours.
With the hope that classes would resume on January 7, 2014, the UL Administration announced again that classes are indefinitely suspended as investigation is still ongoing in the saga surrounding the Provost and the faculty union as the union also remains disengaged.
Since the announcement, there have been emerging speculations and pronouncements in some local dailies by some student group leaders that they will shortly be staging series of violent protest which may result into huge casualties.
Some publications of last week quoted the Student Unification Party (SUP) and University of Liberia Students Union (ULSU) Acting President Anthony Williams as saying that they were calling on each of the fifteen counties to make 100 students available to join forces to surround the Capitol where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be delivering her annual address to the Legislature.
In the wake of these pronouncements and speculations, the Alumni Association also called on all sides of the crisis to remain calm and cooperate with the investigation team to come out with its findings and ruling instead of staging violence that will escalate the problem.