THE University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) academic council and administration had on Aug 21 disbursed termination letters to around 30 students who are members of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).
The decision to terminate the student leaders was an academic and administrative decision of the university.
This decision is perhaps from an authority which is responsible for the effective and efficient administration of the university.
Imagining why this decision was reached is currently a hot debate on the mass media as well as in private conversations.
However, one would definitely draw the answer to the very tough decision taken by the UPNG administration and academic council simply by reviewing the boycotting of classes and the riot that occurred at the University of
Papua New Guinea earlier this year.
It was clear that the boycott and riot were instigated by a remnant of the student population when they demanded that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill step down from office on the grounds of allegations of corruption.
If it was a collective decision which the student leaders have promoted, I could hardly predict that a riot and eventual termination of the 2016 academic year would have occurred.
Despite this prediction, I realised that evidence of a collective or majority decision or such process and procedure wasn’t demonstrated or existed prior to the events of student riot that unfolded in and outside the campus.
There was a lack of an impartial and explicit referendum conducted by the Electoral Commission, which should have been used to ascertain the stance of the university student body, administration and other stakeholders.
It was very clear then that the UPNG administration, the Electoral Commission and a segment of the student population were kept in the dark on the progress of the call for the Prime Minister to step down from office.
The SRC and a remnant of the student body then pursued to promote their agenda through staging unauthorized forums, barricading lecture rooms and offices at the Waigani Campus and coming out on the mass media – the mainstream media as well as on social media with so much bitterness.
The facts of being unauthorised in their actions is evident in the use of intimidation and harassment of unsuspecting and innocent students and staffs on both the Waigani and Taurama campuses, failing to notify the UPNG administration on the conduct of forums, and threatening the public and Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister on social media such as Facebook.
As these events were turning out, the UPNG administration in its good faith took out a restraining order from the Supreme Court purposely to halt further unauthorized and unlawful actions by the UPNG SRC and the students.
Despite the presence of this restraining order, the students and the SRC conducted an unauthorized forum and marched onto the Waigani Drive resulting in a student- police confrontation, public panic, traffic congestion and student casualties.
Again to cordon off further gathering and confrontations, the UPNG administration in its good faith decided to terminate the 2016 academic year.
As a response, a remnant of aggrieved students assaulted security guards and burned university properties.
At the verge of these events, it is acceptable for the UPNG administration in its good faith to terminate the
2016 UPNG SRC members for demonstrating and promoting unauthorised and unlawful actions and ideologies and for the destruction of university properties and the 2016 academic year.
As student leaders, they should be held accountable for their actions and inactions that have caused a national riot and this decision should be a deterrent for student and others people who may try to destroy the integrity of the UPNG administration.
Mike H, Via emai