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17.04.2007 General News

Legon protests new residency policy

By Shaibu ABUBAKAR

Angered by a decision to restrict on-campus accommodation to only first year students from the next academic year, some student of the University of Ghana last Friday took to the streets of the university to protest the decision.

The proposed new residential policy (In-out-out-out) will deny all other students except those in Level 100 (first year) an opportunity of enjoying residential facilities on campus.

The demonstration organized by a group, Students' Coalition Against IN-OUT-OUT-OUT Residential Policy (SCAIRP) saw hundreds of students wearing red t-shirts and arm bands in march on campus.

The otherwise peaceful demonstration was nearly marred when students moved outside the campus and blocked Legon-Madina road, causing heavy traffic for some twenty five minutes.

They then proceeded to the registry to present a petition which was received by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwesi Yankah. The petition urged the Vice Chancellor to reject the proposed residential policy, and rather maintain the current In-Out-Out-In system.

They also called for a review of fees charged by private hostels on campus and draw up a mechanism to regulate the fees of other private hostels to enable 'poor' students to patronize the facilities since this will ease pressure on the university's halls of residence.

The students were also unhappy about the imminent increase in Residential Facility User Fees by about 70% to make it more affordable for students.

Professor Kwesi Yankah said the university administration appreciates the concerns of students on the policy, but expressed displeasure about the language used on the placards held by some of the demonstrators.

He advised students to learn to adopt more civil and diplomatic means of making demands.

Later in an interview, the Chief Petitioner and leader of SCAIRF, Peter Otokunor said students consent was not sought by the residence board before reaching a decision on the new policy.

He said they went on the protest march because they had exhausted all available means but their concerns had still not been addressed. The last of such approaches, he said was the petitioning of the residence board on 4th April, 2007 without a response.

Peter Otokunor contended that the new policy is selective and discriminatory since second to final year students who are accumulating grade points for academic work need to enjoy residential facilities just like the first years, which is totally non-scoring and purely a probationary stage in terms of academics.

President-elect of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Louise Carol Donkor, who was present during the presentation of the petition, said the new residential policy if not reconsidered will be an affront to the governance and sustenance of student administration in the University since it will be practically impossible for a non-resident student to be an office holder of the SRC, JCR and other student bodies.

Out-going SRC President, Mr. Tonyi Senaya expressed surprise at the proposed implementation of the policy since there had not been any agreement between students and authorities at the residence board meeting.

The coalition (SCAIRP) in their petition gave the authorities a deadline of Wednesday 18th April, 2007 to respond to the petition or they would duly advice themselves.

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