The management of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has met with the school’s Students Representative Council (SRC) as well as the leadership of Universtiy Hall (Katanga) and Unity Hall (Conti) to discuss ways of ensuring lasting peace on the school’s campus.
This comes in the wake of the University’s recent reopening after it had been closed down for more than three weeks following a violent protest by students against management’s handling of their concerns.
The President of University Hall, Kataba Mohammed who spoke to Citi News after the meeting said the management is considering reversing its decision to convert the all-male halls into mixed halls, a development that is believed to be one of the underlying reasons for the students’ agitations.
According to him, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso in a meeting with the SRC President, Kelvin Sah and executives of Conti and Katanga indicated the willingness of the school to relook at the conversion of the two halls.
He added that the University management and student leaders had expressed their commitment to working together to resolve all disputes and ensure lasting peace.
“Within this meeting, the root cause of this issue was given a listening ear. We are happy about it as we are moving along but we are hoping that it won’t end as a mere conversation. They also made it known that we should have more of such open discussions to ensure that the University runs smoothly because Katanga and Conti are within the University so if we damage the image of the University, it is going to affect how we are seen out there,’’ he stated.
Kataba added that student leaders were given the opportunity to present their concerns formally to the authorities.
Among the reasons the students gave for embarking on the protest last month was the fact that they felt the Universty was imposing the conversion of the halls on them and not creating an opportunity to hear their concerns or address them.
“The meeting was a fruitful one. For the first time, all interests were represented to the maximum. We were able to voice out all our challenges as University and Unity Halls, where management had first-hand account of some of the things that were being done that students felt uncomfortable with. In as much as we were trying to let them understand where some of the issues were coming from, there was a show of surprise at some of the issues we raised but nevertheless, they expressed their readiness to solve them,” he added.
He further stated that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso gave them the assurance that executives of Katanga and Conti who were not given access to the halls, would be made to take charge of activities at the halls and fully assume their positions and act accordingly.
“They were willing to put in measures as soon as possible to ensure that executives are able to take charge of events, ensure that the Junior Common Rooms (JCR) is running and students’ issues are being addressed as soon as possible. So let’s just say it was a fruitful one and we are optimistic that moving forward various demands of students are implemented,” he added.
The protests erupted after the arrest of 10 students and one alumnus of the school.
The students were arrested for a holding vigil on campus without permission, according to the school authorities.
One other student who was allegedly mistreated by the internal security was hospitalised at the KNUST hospital.
The arrests came after the KNUST management served notice that it had suspended the organisation of vigils (morale sessions) in the school.
The management said this was because of “several negative issues encountered recently concerning morales in the hall.”
The Executive Council of the SRC said the demonstration was needed to convey students’ frustration over disrespect and oppression by the school.
Some of the protesters called for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.
The SRC said the actions of the campus security and the police officers were a “gross deviation” because the two agencies were instead to protect them.
The Council also promised students that it would ensure the security officers who allegedly beat up students are held accountable while urging students to remain calm.
The Police arrested 20 students following the incident.
A day later, the school was closed down indefinitely.