Liberia: UMU Refutes Disinformation on 18th Commencement Exercise

UMU President Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono

— Said the social media propagandists’ action was unorthodox

Authorities of the United Methodist University (UMU) have refuted information circulating on social media about the recent program marking the 18th commencement convocation of the University.

Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, September 13 in Monrovia, the President of the University, Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono said the information on Social Media was riddled with false information about the number of graduates and the percentage of individuals who graduated from the UMU with honors.

“We all congratulated UMU and its 1,325 graduates on the occasion of their successful graduation. However, we are left baffled to know that it was just 100 persons of the 1,325 that did not graduate with honors. Out of the 1,325 persons that graduated, 350 graduated with Summa Cum Laude. 500 graduated with Magna Cum Laude while 375 graduated with Cum Laude,” a post on Wow News Media claims. 

“This means that approximately 92.5% of the students graduated with honors during the just-ended Convocation ceremony of the University. This whole thing is not clear,” the social media post further noted.

Wow News Media is a Facebook platform liked by 26,956 people and followed by 31,027 people, including journalists.

Posts on the platform are without recognized identities to people who post them.

Gono said “The information was trending so fast that individuals who were sharing it with their friends were not even concerned about the authenticity of the information.

“They just wanted to be a part of the team that sent it to their friends. The critics of the 18th Commencement Convocation (or whatever name you may want to call them), did not only focus on the number of honorees, but also on the venue of the event and the time it took some of our graduates to get home,” she mentioned.

She clarified that the UMU's 18th Commencement Convocation 0had two Honorary Degree Recipients, 1337  graduates in various disciplines while 114 was the number of students honored at all levels.

Gono said the false information was shared across the various platforms of friends and relatives who are considered as stakeholders and partners in the educational landscape of Liberia. 

“As a result of this false information, our partners, stakeholders, and students got concerned about this falsehood that was trending on social media, especially Facebook (Meta, as it is officially known),” she added.

The UMU President added that her institution was constrained to address the falsehood circulated on social media not because they want to engage in dialogue with their accusers, but because as a responsible institution they want to bring to the attention of the public that social media is a place for artistic individuals to sell themselves to cheapest minds that will consume their products without question or discernment.

“It took us this long to react because we knew that was their way of engaging us into the kind of unorthodox way they operate,” the University president stated.

Moreover, she noted that contrary to the false information that 92% of the total number of graduates were honored students; the actual percent was 8.5 or 9%, depending on how one would prefer to work the math.

“These individuals completely ignored the August 31, 2022, editions of the Daily Observer and the News Newspaper and went on to publish their own stories about the University's graduation. 

“Our institution is in the business of providing quality education and is not bothered by the politics people associate education with. This is why on a daily basis we are doing our best to give out the best,” Gono added.

She concluded by calling on critics of the University to stop carrying out misleading info about the University.

“I am calling on our friends and partners in the media that we are available to share with you all information concerning the University and to provide clarity where necessary. We accept the fact that the world is becoming so narrow because of the internet, which is the vehicle of social media, but we value the authenticity of information that is shared about the UMU and its people.”