By ZACHERY PER
SOME 2,500 University of Goroka (UOG) students yesterday withdrew en masse from their studies as members of the National Academic Staff Association (NASA) resolved for an en masse resignation.
These actions were taken after Vice-Chancellor Dr Gairo Onagi refused to step down from office when NASA petitioned him and his two pro-vice chancellors Associate Prof Michael Mel and Dr James Yoko.
Prof Mel and Dr Yoko stepped down last Friday while Dr Onagi opted to remain in office for 14 days to complete a full council before making his exit.
The response given last Friday did not go down well with the students and staff who decided to withdraw en masse and staff to go for mass resignation.
As the students gathered at the university campus to compile their withdrawal forms, Dr Yoko and Prof Mel intervened to address them.
The students refused to hear what they had to say and yelled at them, questioning where they were when the boycott began five weeks ago.
The students said the duo had stepped down from office and, therefore, did not have a legal mandate to address their issue.
Students filled out their withdrawal forms to get three deans of science, education and humanities faculties to sign before they returned to their respective provinces.
The students kept their petition highly confidential and are expected to hand it over to Higher Education Minister Michael Ogio. They refused to hand it over to the director-general of the Office of Higher Education (OHE) Dr William Tagis.
They demanded for Dr Onagi to step down and pave the way for a caretaker administration to facilitate the establishment of a full university council.
The student’s petition contained several issues they considered creating an unfavourable learning environment in UOG.
They boycotted classes soon after registration and were demanding Mr Ogio to remove Dr Onagi’s administration and immediately establish a full council.
Student representative council (SRC) vice-president Heirinu Kanina said they distributed more than 2,400 copies of student withdrawal forms which will be signed by the deans.
“We will present the forms to the management. It will be a situation where either they go or we go,” he said.
NASA president Martin Waure said the boycott into its sixth week with no concrete solution.
“NASA made three unsuccessful diplomatic approaches towards the management.
“We saw that the students are determined as the university’s activities are being jeopardised.
“We resolved in our meeting this morning (yesterday) to go for a mass resignation,” Mr Waure said.
He said they would give the administration three months to facilitate their exit.
“It is now up to the Higher Education Minister and appropriate authorities to intervene to find a quick solution,” he added.