MONROVIA – Against what is fast becoming an alarming security concern where some students at the University of Liberia have embarked upon acts of hooliganism and other acts of violence such as physically attacking, jeering and harassing government officials or persons close to the government, a number of citizens have vehemently spoken against the attitude which they noted is pure display of unruly behavior that has nothing against their professed activism, making reference to the recent molestation and embarrassment meted out against Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, former Solicitor General of Liberia.
The referenced attack on Cllr. Cephas, who recently resigned his portfolio as Solicitor General of Liberia, occurred last weekend on the main Campus of the University of Liberia, when the revered lawyer had gone on campus on a private visit but got a shocking reception from the students who rushed him, encircled his car, and chanted abusive words, thus forcing him to flee the campus in utter embarrassment.
The action which was videotaped, shared and trended the social media forum did not go down well with some members of the public, as they descended on the perpetrators of “hiding” behind activism to exhibit behaviors that are not worthy of students at a higher institution level like the state-run university. Most of those who spoke to The Analyst over the weekend blamed the situation on the decline in the standard of education at the University and the complete lack of vision and zeal for learning among many of the students who are seeking admission these days.
“I wept for this country when I saw the recorded video sent to my WhatsApp number. It was an eyesore, a complete representation of how education has been reduced in this country. Young men who were sent to school by their parents to learn for their future left their academic work on that day to harass a worthy citizen who had gone on UL campus to attend to his personal business. It is sad”, Tony Welton, a retired civil servant said.
For Jerry Tieyee Milton, an educator who spoke to our correspondent, it was high time the UL administration gets involved to stamp out the ugly attitude of the students before the image and reputation of UL gets further damaged from the actions of its students.
“It is fast becoming a culture at the state-run institution that students will jump on government officials upon seeing them on their campus. This is insanity, and until the university steps in, this may not end. The administration can even start acting right in this premise by investigating the incident and then punish those who are involved in order to deter others from engaging in such act”, he said.
For those who have seen this to be the third in a series where high-profile government officials were ridiculed and embarrassed, they placed the whole incident on the door steps of the administration of UL as they have lost control of happenings right in their full glare. The critics believe that allowing the university to sit back to condone these acts of violence, vandalism and destruction will continue to undermine the authority of those in charge of affairs at the UL.
“It did not start with Cllr. Cephas. It started with Former Minister of State Nathaniel F. McGill and Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr when they were attacked and chased out of the campus where they had gone to inspect the ongoing renovation works on campus right in the presence of the administration.
“Then they did it to the Vice President, Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor when she launched the Degree Program in Fishery and Aquaculture, again in the presence of the administration. Though I don’t have information whether in Cephas’ case, the administration was present, but you can see that it followed a similar pattern where these students are turning the campus into a battle zone against government officials”, said Ben Tieslah, a public affairs commentator.
Henry Weh II, a security expert, told The Analyst that the administration is treading a dangerous path and they are unknowingly breeding some sort of terror acts among the students. He maintained that it will be safe to say that the administration is actually encouraging these obvious violent attitudes and needs to be told boldly that they will be held responsible for any act perpetrated by the students against any government official which will result in some violence act that may go beyond the campuses of the University.
“I don’t know at what level the administration wants the obvious acts of terror presently taking place on the campus before they take punitive or proactive steps. You have seen two cabinet ministers humiliated, you have seen the Vice President equally being subjected to this form of harassment and threats, you saw a former chief prosecutor also being chased out of the campus. What level of physical attack are you waiting for to see before you take action? I see a serious crisis that may snowball outside of the campus given how volatile our political climate has become”, he said.
Against the background of the unhindered attack on government officials, a lot of citizens are deeply concerned whether the UL administration has a code of conduct of the students and if it has, whether such acts are not considered to be against the code or they are not punishable at all. They concurred that the administration owes it to the public to offer students attending the institution sound moral upbringing and good character development as these are germane in producing good citizenship that will be an asset to the growth and development of the country.
“The administration needs to be reminded that it is not enough seeing students sitting down in classes, taking lessons and writing examinations for their degrees but ensuring that the education being provided is total which must impact on the students when they graduate from there. The students upon graduation must be prepared to live a decent and refined life so as to be productive and useful. I believe that the present administration has not been able to achieve that and it is unfortunate”, stated a female activist who pleaded not to be named in the paper.
Other pundits who spoke to this paper said they hope that Liberia is not reaching the point where individual with links to the government will be tempted to move on campus with heavy security from the state or private source to provide protection while they are on campus, since the UL administration cannot provide them protection.
“And this is the part they are underrating which may backfire someday if care is not taken. A government official who has legitimate business on campus will feel that they should not be restricted from entering the campus, and since the UL authority cannot provide them protection, they will move there with their own security and that could be a source of concern. We hope we are not approaching that point because it will not be in the good interest of the society”, a retired security officer said last night.