25 November 2013

Liberia: Lingering Tension At University of Liberia Shuts Down Classes, Veep in Turmoil

Photo: Mama Liberia
Stacks at University of Liberia library.

Monrovia - Tension on Friday engulfed between the UL Police and students at the University of Liberia, two days after the University Faculty Association (ULFA) demanded the resignation of the Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Wede-Elliot Brownell.

The Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police was called in to calm the tension down, when the confrontation broke out between the U.L Police and the students.

The tension on campus began when students joined members of the UL faculty in demanding the resignation of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The students were seen parading on the UL main campus with a symbolic casket bearing portraits of Madam Brownell.

Citing a resolution passed by the faculty, ULFA President Clifford Young said the faculty has disengaged from all activities at the UL's four campus.

Young said, the strike action will continue until madam Brownell resigns. "No faculty member of the University of Liberia will engage in any instructional activities at the University until our demands are met," Young noted.

Young added that, since madam Brownell's incumbency as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, there have been a lot of problems between students and faculty members.

He cited arbitrary dismissals, mistreatment of faculty members as some of the problems that warrant the resignation of Dr. Brownell.

Young said the ULFA has resolved that its members which include lecturers will lay their chalks down until the vice president for Academic Affairs is removed from the University.

This decision by ULFA has brought the state University to a standstill and classes to a halt amid anger from students unhappy with the turn of events.

"Dr. Brownell was given one intellectual and revolutionary shot by the students that have led to her demise," Says Student Alexander Williams, spokesperson for concern student movement of the University of Liberia, referring to a makeshift funeral, students had organized in protest. "Her body will be taken far away from the main campus because she cannot be buried on the University of Liberia Campus, because it will cause chaos because even her ghost will not be welcomed here."

Students paraded a symbolic casket of the embattled vice president, with words written red; "Why so soon". The students illustrated a photo of Brownell, claiming had her remains that they had shot and killed intellectually.

Added Williams: "She is presently in martyrdom, that even on the Day of Judgment; she won't have the ability to resurrect because of her infidel backward and irrationally portion toward peaceful students of the University of Liberia. So we are here to make sure that Brownell body be buried today."

Williams accuses Brownell of instituting a backward policy by transferring the main campus bus stops to Fendell campus and has misused budgetary allotment of the University. "For this, she should resign without delay."

The saga started about two weeks ago when the University abruptly announced that it was ending the registration process after some students on scholarship claimed not to have registered, due to the late payment of the scholarship committee. The affected students pleaded that they be given more time but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

University President Dr. Emmett Dennis, last Thursday, held a meeting with Deans and Department Chairpersons to find a way to resolve the crisis.

At the end of the meeting a committee was set up to intervene between the administration and the faculty.

The faculty has agreed to meet with the administration on the condition that Brownell, the embattled Vice President of Academic Affairs is not present. However, a source in the UL Administration told FPA Friday, meeting between the administration and ULFA ended in deadlock with the ULFA maintaining that Dr. Brownell's resignation as precondition for negotiations to begin.

The source told FrontPage Africa that the home of Dr. Brownell on the UL Fendell campus was on Friday ransacked by some unknown persons believed to be students.

Students have had two violent protests this semester: One was for the administration's abrupt closure of the registration process and the other, relating for the administering of the midterm exams which they [students] argued was not timely due to series of delays from the registration process.

With this battle between the faculty and the administration students' faith to resume classes' remains in limbo and December graduation might likely be postponed if this saga continues in a week or two.

The University of Liberia has not made any official comment about Brownell's position since the ongoing saga began. UL President Dr. Emmett Dennis told FPA that he could not speak on the issue until a meeting of the university board Monday to find a solution to the crisis.

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