Mother Mary Brownell, one of Liberia’s renowned social, economic and women’s rights activist, has frowned on the level of violence that has overtaken over the country; this, she said, we cannot help but lay at the feet of some of our youths—many of whom are “students.”
Madam Brownell said that the high level of violence in Liberia is a result of the mindset of most Liberians.
These Liberians are especially young people, who constitute a large portion of the country’s population.
They resort to violence as a way of taking care of problems.
“That,” she said, “is unacceptable in a modern and civilized nation that Liberia is striving to become.”
Serving as the commencement speaker at the University of Liberia’s 95th commencement convocation, the veteran Liberian educator told her audience that Liberians seem to have forgotten everything related to respect for constituted authority.
On radio stations and at Hatayi centers around the country, the nation’s leaders are constantly insulted and referred to in all sorts of ways.
Using the recent UL fracas (disturbance, quarrel) involving the school’s Provost, its student body and the institution’s faculty, Madam Brownell told her audience that being a university student does not justify (validate, give good reason for) unwholesome behavior.
“If university students resort to (fall back on) violence and go as far as vandalizing their school’s properties, then what do you expect from elementary and junior high students,” she asked rhetorically?
“Violence has never been known to solve problems; rather, it exacerbates (makes worse) a problem. We need to stop these unwholesome practices,” she added.
Speaking on the theme: “Old Values for A New Age,” Madam Brownell enumerate (listed, counted) three important values that when interpolated (thrown in) to this new age, will make the Liberian society a vibrant and productive one.
The commencement speaker named freedom of speech, academic freedom, and academic excellence as those values that students—especially those at the university level—should always seek and try their best to find.
She noted that those were the values that generations past fought for and many of them are considered successful people today, though freedom of speech was not enjoyed back then as much as it is enjoyed today.
“Academic freedom is another value that students should yearn for; but it does not give one the right to violate others’ rights as is frequent done today, by demonstrating and obstructing classes,” she explained.
Moving on to the value of academic excellence, Mother Brownell pointed out that faculties at the various universities should represent the last line of defense against the commercialization of academic integrity—something that she said, is not for sale, but should and must be earned by students.
To the students, she had this to say: “Forget about the good-time; forget about the beer; forget about the ‘drugs soup,’ and forget about all those issues that will impede your chances of learning something that tomorrow, will be of great benefit to you, your family and your nation. It is forbidden to use dubious (questionable, doubtful) means to do well while hurting others.”
Meanwhile, an honorary doctorate was conferred on the commencement- convocation speaker for her numerous services to humanity—especially to the Liberian public, for over six decades.
The University of Liberia presidential award of distinction and excellence were awarded to three prominent global academicians, including, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey; Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal University, Pro. C. Raj Kumar of India and Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, David A. B. Jallah.
Nine staffs of the University were retired after long years of service and their immense contribution to the entity.
A total of 1,658 students were presented degrees at Wednesday’s graduation ceremony. The graduates represented post-graduate, undergraduate programs, and professional schools.
Of the total mentioned above, 241 received post-graduate degrees, while 102 were granted degrees from professional schools such as the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, the A. M. Dogiotti College of Medicine, and the School of Pharmacy. A total of 1,315 received degrees in under-graduate categories.
The University’s Visitor, (Chancellor) President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was not in attendance at this year’s convocation.