HARPER, Maryland – Academic activities at the William V. S. Tubman University in Maryland have resumed after coming to standstill on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, when students of the Engineering College made several demands for the university to improve the quality of education.
The students say their actions came because of the university’s failure to address several issues affecting the student population to facilitate learning at the government’s second university.
On October 17, the aggrieved students were seen in the morning moving from one class to another requesting their colleagues to go home on grounds that as long as there is an inadequate number of professors, there should be no academic activities on the university campus until the institution meets up with their demands. The protest lasted until 3:00 p.m.
But at the start of the peaceful demonstration, the university’s authority led by Elizabeth Enanoria-Carbajosa, vice president for academic affairs, invited the Liberia National Police in Harper to help calm the situation, although that had little effect on the protest.
More than 50 students continued their demonstration for two days and took over the entire William V.S. Tubman University main campus and the annex. They paraded with palm thatches tied on their heads and arms and dressed in black jeans and t-shirts, urging other students to go home.
The protesting students later asked the Student Government Assembly president, Reuben G. Togba, and his officials to close their offices and seek the interest of the affected students of the College of Engineering.
However, Maryland’s superintendent, Betsy Kouh-Toe, was later escorted by police to the university campus to attempt to work with students and the university’s administration to find a solution.
In an October 16 letter from the aggrieved engineering students addressed to Vice President Enanoria-Carbajosa and the university’s president, Edward Lama Wonkeryor, the students outlined several issues including a lack of professors, stalled construction on the engineering building, and a lack of literature in the institution’s library for engineering courses, among others.
The students wrote that they were unhappy with unfulfilled promises by the university over the past months.
Meanwhile, the university’s director of media and public relations, Solo Otto Gaye, speaking on the university’s broadcaster, Phoenix FM, attributed the failure of the university to fulfill its obligations to low budgetary allocations to the state-owned university.
Following a series of fruitless meetings at the university campus with the board chair of the university, Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, normal and effective academic activities have returned to the university.
During the meeting, Kateh recommended that the College of Engineering and Technology be closed on grounds that the college lacks qualified professors and relevant services necessary for learning.
While addressing aggrieved students of the college on October 23, the university’s president, Wonkeryor, admitted that the university is unable to provide some of the required services due to low budgetary allocation by the central government. He noted that the government had allotted US$4.6 million, most of which is for employees’ salaries.
He said his administration is working with the university’s board to ensure that four professors are brought in to serve as faculty at the Engineering College at the end of October. However, he expressed a displeasure with the student protests.
“I’m not happy with the procedure the students took in addressing their plights,” Wonkeryor said.
Addressing the issue of unqualified professors at the college, Wonkeryor promised to conduct vetting of all professors teaching within the college. He also added that computers for the engineering students are in Monrovia awaiting transportation to the university.
However, Wonkeryor said he could not assure the students that the engineering building would be completed by December 7th, 2017, as they had demanded in their letter. He said the university lacks the funds to do so.
Featured photo by Franklin Nehyalor