THE University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) sen-ate’s decision to terminate the 2016 academic year is of great concern for the par-ents and sponsors of the 5000 plus students and the country at large.
While we must under-stand that the decision is final, it is regrettable to see students going back home.
And this has also created confusion as to who is responsible for the chaos and mess.
The clue is to find out which body represents the students in ensuring that the academic year should continue and conclude properly.
We all should know that the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is the body that is empowered to represent students’ issues.
Therefore, the SRC should have been proactive on student issues rather than playing a political role of the Parlia-ment.
Having followed the issues since May 2, I have noticed that the SRC was proactive on the political issues like the demand for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to step down from office.
It gave less consideration to the internal issues and the stu-dents’ main objective to complete their studies.
The SRC constitution requires for a majority of registered students to vote for a referendum conducted by the PNG Electoral Commission before a petition can be drawn up.
However, no referendum was conducted and the SRC continued with the boycott of classes without seeking the views of the student body.
The SRC was adamant to see the PM removed from the office and pledged to fight at all costs.
Most of the issues regarding the PM are pend-ing in court and some required the intervention of the Public Prosecutor and the Ombudsman Com-mission.
Without support from the Ombudsman Commis-sion, the call by the SRC was a cheap shot and polit-ically orchestrated.
This has partly con-tributed to the resentment and frustration among the students which caused damage to university prop-erties and stand-offs between the students themselves, the students and the police, and theUPNG security service.
Finally, the actions of the SRC and a group of hardline students have cost the bulk of students their education, time, effort and money.
If the SRC was a respon-sible body, it should have allowed the students to return to class rather than prolong the boycott.
A boycott is an outdated means of protesting against issues and though it may be effective in the workplace and among industrial unions, it is not suitable for universities.
This is because the boy-cott will have severe impli-cations not only on the uni-versities but their students, parents, sponsors and the country at large.