Angry UL Students Besiege Dr. Weeks for 7 Hours

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ULSU President Mawolo Flomo speaks to aggrieved students as riot police secure passage for Dr. Weeks (photo: Simeon S. Wiakanty)

-Police Deputy I.G., A. B. Kromah, leads squad to rescue her

By Simeon S. Wiakanty and David S. Menjor

Students of the University of Liberia yesterday barricaded their president, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, in the auditorium of the Capitol Hill campus for nearly seven hours for ignoring their call to let the registration process continue.

Dr. Weeks, who was in a faculty meeting with heads of the business college, was taken by surprise when nearly two hundred students locked the doors of the auditorium and stood before it, chanting battle cries and demanding her immediate response to allow the registration process continues.

Speaking to his colleagues while Dr. Weeks was still was locked in the auditorium, University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) president Mawolo Flomo said unless registration resumes and accommodates all those students who have already begun the process, Dr. Weeks and her faculty will not realize peace, neither will they see normal activities on campus.

Addressing his colleagues amidst battle cries and slogans of disenchantment, Flomo said until the UL Administration can adhere to the student leadership’s call and reconsider the decision to extend the ongoing registration process; there will be no peace or normal academic activity on the campus.

Flomo said he and his colleagues are ready to make sacrifices — even if it causes the resignation of Dr. Weeks — to ensure that students who have already begun their registration processes can complete them.

“We will not give in to any threat or pressure, regardless of wherever it comes from. Our quest is and remains the call of ULSU to Dr. Weeks and her supporters to allow the registration process to go on,” he said.

Flomo, who joined the group of students standing before the main entrance of the auditorium, said the days of diplomacy to settle students’ registration concerns are over. “Dr. Weeks will have to decide as to whether she wants to remain president of the microcosm of our larger society or leave by virtue of hate against the progressive learning of the student populace,” he said.

Speaking to the Daily Observer, aggrieved student Makerous T. Massaquoi explained that since the semester began, the UL president has not been able to address the issue of the registration process after they had used every diplomatic means to engage her administration.

“Today we saw a notice on the bulletin stating that students who did not complete the registration process should continue their process on Thursday, but to our  surprise  she came and told us that registration will not continue because she is not aware of the notice on the bulletin, which has called on students to resume their registration,’’ Massaquoi said.

He said many students have resolved to call on Dr. Weeks to step aside from the UL presidency. “We want her to resign. She is not doing well to meet the demands of the student body of all the campuses of the University of Liberia. She does not relate to the student leadership or other students easily and has an authoritarian style of leadership,” he said, adding that Weeks should have, by now, learned from the past.

Reacting to the students’ action, the director of media relations of UL, Mrs. Jani Kollie said it is disappointing for students of the state run university to continue to disrupt their own normal learning activities.

She said the ongoing meeting between Dr. Weeks and all the colleges and departments are intended to help take care of the many challenges the University is faced with. “The students’ protest is intended for the administration to extend the registration period so as to allow those students who paid their fees in November 2017 to complete their registration process. It is a good idea but one thing here too is that many of the students are not even fair to themselves, nor to the institution,” Mrs. Kollie said.

She said a special administrative meeting is scheduled for today to look into the merits and demerits of their demands.

Meanwhile, a team of police officers, led by deputy inspector general of police, Col. Abraham Kromah intervened and escorted Dr. Weeks to safety. The officers took her in a police vehicle and drove her away from the campus, while the students booed at her and chanted slogans of dissatisfaction of her leadership.

There was no arrest by the police and no one was injured.

The campus of the University of Liberia has seen series of demonstrations about registration process, the latest of which was yesterday’s protest, with students calling for the resignation of the president of the university.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

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David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting Indeed! Liberia’s highest INSTITUTION for learning can not handle it’s own REGISTRATION process. If need be, hire a reputable foreign institution; for higher learning, to completely assess and OVERHAUL the University Of Liberia. There are just too many controversies at U.L these days. The University Of Liberia’s “GOOD” reputation as an Institution For Higher Learning must be RESTORED. *NB. A University Education is not suitable for everyone. Choose QUALITY over QUANTITY. That’s what a University is really about. If a student doesn’t measure up to standard after their first year of enrollment, let them seek some others… Success in the [REAL] World, doesn’t necessarily require a University Education. If you play well and hard, you can very well make it to the top_ once we like the WAY you PLAY.

  2. Give them the extension, what’s the big deal in doing that? It is about them so what’s the point about the refusal to extend the registration?

    There is always flexibility in decision making people.

  3. The University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) president Mawolo Flomo said “unless registration resumes and accommodates all those students who have already begun the process, Dr. Weeks and her faculty will not realize peace, neither will they see normal activities on campus.” We must take all terrorist threats seriously,
    beginning with the immediate expulsion of the student leader Mawolo Flomo.

  4. It’s good for social, political, economic, scholastic and all issues to be discussed and settled in a demoncratic fashion, but not by way of a mob action. Having gone through so much trouble, a mob action is the least of alternatives that could be employed to settle a registration issue. University students ought to take note that although Dr. Weeks has presidential powers, she cannot make decisions without consulting with the governing body of the university. One of the components of being a good leader is consultation. Dr. Weeks does not deserve a mob action. On the flip side, it is hoped that Dr. Weeks will reach an accomodation after her necessary contacts have been made.

    Finally, a new president is about to be enthroned. As he prepares to sit in a troubled cockpit of the presidency, it would be contemptible for the Weah-Taylor team to be greeted with agitation from our country’s premier university. Let us take a pause and hope that The new president and his team will work well with the leadership of the University of Liberia and its students.

    Peace!

  5. The UL President and Governing Board, needs to be more responsive and sensitive to the needs of the students. The President of Liberia needs to give more support to the University. But despite all that. Students cannot, for no reason, resort to mob action. We must try hard to leave behind that kind of rebel behavior in Liberia. It borders on criminal behavior.

  6. Violent behavior will no longer be tolerated at various institutions of learning in Liberia!!!

    Hooliganism, so-called violent student activism, and terroristic threats should never be tolerated in any institution of higher learning. These revolutionary tactics disrupt the peaceful learning environment for students who are there to achieve their education.

    Revolutionary student leaders, like Mawolo Flomo and other perpetrators of such crime (holding faculties and the university president hostage) should be dealt with according to the law. If they violate any of the university policies or rules, they should be expelled from the university. Such harsh disciplinary action will set an example for trouble makers, and it helps weed out the rebels within the confine of the university. At the same time, there are many high school graduates on the waiting list who are ready to occupy their place at the university.

    It is necessary to have student government in any institution of learning to represent students’ interest but these so-called student activists and their revolutionary leaders are misleading and encouraging other students to take the law into their own hands in order to settle disputes and other students’ grievances.

    There are rules and guide lines to follow within any place of work or institution of learning. Liberian students should be cognizant that there are serious consequences to violating these rules. Those dark days of mob violence and destructive rioting have led Liberia to where it is today…..backwards in every facet of educational and economic development.

    These students have the right to be heard or protest peacefully! However, instead of them using constructive dialogue, peaceful protest, and peaceful negotiation to come to an amicable resolution, they chose revolutionary tactics to gain political recognition. Such tactic is detrimental to the peace and stability of the University of Liberia.

    Violent behavior should never be tolerated in conflict resolution: neither at school nor within the Liberian society. It is destructive. It is costly. It leads to irrevocable loss of lives and properties…….as we are still witnessing from our 14 years civil war.

  7. Tarlue,
    The constitution of Liberia protects the freedom of speech. That’s one of the ways in which demoncracy works. It’s very good that a lot of people in Liberia are coming to grips with this reality.

    In any case, the truth must be told. The university of Liberia students expressed themselves yesterday. The president, Dr. O. Weeks was held hostage for a 7-hour period. Although the university students have a right to free speech, this time, the students went overboard. Their 7-hour seige was clearly a mob action activity. Fortunately, law enforcement personnel was called in to break a fortified human chain barricade that the students imposed to prevent Dr. Weeks’ escape.

    I do not argue that the university students should not protest. Of course, I would like to see non-violent protests. What I vehemently oppose is precisely what the students did yesterday. The students settled their grevience in a violent way.

    Hypothetically, the hostage, Dr. Weeks could have had her blood pressure aggravated or her husband, kids or family members could have died (God forbid) or the possibility of a heart attack could have occurred. On the other hand, law enforcement officers could have become violently dangerous as a way of breaking through the students’ barricade to redeem Dr. Weeks. On the flip side, what if death had occurred? What would have happened if a son or daughter of a loving parent or parents had died? What would have been the talk of the day? Thanks be to God Almighty. No life was lost!

    The students……
    I do not want to be understood as siding with Dr. Weeks and turning a blind eye from the pressing concerns of the students. Not at all with my hands crossed. Again I repeat, “students have a right to express themselves. But, a mob action activity that resembles a citizen arrest is the path the university students chose yesterday. Let’s face it. The issue that the students have presented is not an unsolvable conundrum. Neither do I think that the president, Dr. Weeks is a perfidious person. Indeed, she’s not. And yes, the students’ demand (s) will be accomodated. Was that the only way in which attention could have been called? I don’t think so. The students could have boycotted classes. That would have been highly effective.

    Finally, a closure will come. It’s my hope and prayer that the university administrators will level the playing field. It will be the best thing to do if the students do not choose a non-violent course of action next time. Tarlue, I am not siding with the president. All I would like to see is for issues to be resolved democratically. Finally, I urge the university of Liberia students to resume classes. I am very certain that Dr. Weeks and the authorities will do something good.

  8. The University has been run over the years just as previous Liberian governments ran the country with authoritarian run in conjunction with the security force . Refusing the to change direction , previous governments would carried out political intimidations and brutal force using the nation’s security. A practice that is being used by every administration of that university , call in the National Police time after time , at the same time no administrative planning and reform of the registration system process . It is about time the bosses at LNP meet with the university about this disturbing trend . LNP has the records on how many times they have been called in to go on that campus to settle dispute involving students and administrators . The country is changing and finding solutions to many of its problems, but the university administration authoritarian rule is still present year after year . Before this year is over, the LNP will be called back again in to do these failed administrators work that they are being paid to do . Which is run the affairs of the university in a learning and peaceful environment that is accommodating, and not my way or the highway , or we will call in the police . The same as previous Liberian governments refusing to change from its authoritarian rule. Sure call in the cops, that’s all they do and know .

  9. James Davis,
    Could you please tell the Liberian people what the students’ demands are.
    List them as follows:

    (1)

    (2)

    (3)

    (4) ……..

    The public wants to know. Could you please tell us?

    Have a blessed day, James Davis.

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