The leadership of the University of Liberia campus political party, the Student Unification Party (SUP) has differed with student Alvin C. Wesseh and his rioters, branding them as “misguided” students.
In a release issued on the Capitol Hill campus of UL, the SUP leadership through its chairman, Jerome D. Dangbuah and Secretary General Butu Levi condemned what it called the “thoughtless and callous” approach taken by student Wesseh and his group, leading to disruption of academic activities for thousands of students.
“This act of disorderliness does not only have the propensity to undermine the successful completion of the semester, but it also has the proclivity to relapse the academic journey of thousands of university students currently acquiring tertiary education,” the release added.
The SUP leadership also said that intelligence investigation has shown that there are non students who have been involved in creating pandemonium and chaos at UL in exchange for dollars.
“SUP therefore warns these paid agents to refrain from such unwholesome acts of hooliganism as they are planning to subsequently arrest those involved and turn them over to the law,” the release said.
The SUP leadership also recalled challenges that had brought academic setbacks to students, mentioning the riot against former Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, Wede Elliot-Brownell and the interruption by Ebola which caused the University of Liberia to suspend classes for almost a year.
During the 2013/2014 first semester, students rose up against Dr. Brownell on the grounds that she was allegedly interfering with the work of UL Fiscal Affairs Department and the system put in place for students to register per week in accordance with status.
They also alleged that Dr. Brownell restricted the period for registration and did not allow it to continue throughout the semester.
During their violent protest against Dr. Brownell on November 12, 2013, one Anthony Williams who claimed to be a student leader said, “We do not want limitations on the registration process, and because Wede Brownell (introduced) it to the university, she must leave before the militants can rest.”
This situation led to indefinite suspension of classes and as academic activities resumed in May 2014 to complete the semester, Ebola interrupted and caused every activity in the country to come to a standstill.
Considering these setbacks for students, SUP said in the release, “The Student Unification Party wants to send a strong caveat to comrade Wesseh and his likes to desist and avoid the act of disrupting classes at the University of Liberia. Any attempt as of today (October 22, 2014) to continue in such unorthodox, unacceptable and counterproductive manner, SUP will ensure to maintain and restore by any means possible civility, stability and tranquility on the campuses of the University of Liberia.”
The party acknowledged that it has solved an array of problems relating to expulsions and suspensions in diverse and strategic ways, and still has the potential to address issues relating to Alvin Wesseh.
“Comrade Wesseh must immediately stop his campaign of self-proclamation, unnecessary chest-beating, and mere popularity spree. We would encourage student Wesseh to follow the trend of necessary engagement or channel that will evolve a rational resolution,” SUP’s release further urged.
Meanwhile, some supporters of Alvin Wesseh have also described the action taken by the party as a “betrayal of cause,” stressing that Alvin Wesseh has been a strong advocate for students and leaving him in the cold would expose the weakness of SUP.
But others countered that in no way an individual’s expulsion can spark up violent demonstration, especially when the student is not regarding the party in his action.
As there seems to be a division among SUP members, those in support of Alvin Wesseh are planning another demonstration on the Fendell campus today, but those against the rioters are also planning to oppose them in whatever way possible.