Students of the University of Liberia yesterday barricaded their president, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, in the auditorium of the Capitol Hill campus for nearly seven hours for ignoring their call to let the registration process continue.
Dr. Weeks, who was in a faculty meeting with heads of the business college, was taken by surprise when nearly two hundred students locked the doors of the auditorium and stood before it, chanting battle cries and demanding her immediate response to allow the registration process continues.
Speaking to his colleagues while Dr. Weeks was still was locked in the auditorium, University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) president Mawolo Flomo said unless registration resumes and accommodates all those students who have already begun the process, Dr. Weeks and her faculty will not realize peace, neither will they see normal activities on campus.
Addressing his colleagues amidst battle cries and slogans of disenchantment, Flomo said until the UL Administration can adhere to the student leadership's call and reconsider the decision to extend the ongoing registration process; there will be no peace or normal academic activity on the campus.
Flomo said he and his colleagues are ready to make sacrifices -- even if it causes the resignation of Dr. Weeks -- to ensure that students who have already begun their registration processes can complete them.
"We will not give in to any threat or pressure, regardless of wherever it comes from. Our quest is and remains the call of ULSU to Dr. Weeks and her supporters to allow the registration process to go on," he said.
Flomo, who joined the group of students standing before the main entrance of the auditorium, said the days of diplomacy to settle students' registration concerns are over. "Dr. Weeks will have to decide as to whether she wants to remain president of the microcosm of our larger society or leave by virtue of hate against the progressive learning of the student populace," he said.
Speaking to the Daily Observer, aggrieved student Makerous T. Massaquoi explained that since the semester began, the UL president has not been able to address the issue of the registration process after they had used every diplomatic means to engage her administration.
"Today we saw a notice on the bulletin stating that students who did not complete the registration process should continue their process on Thursday, but to our surprise she came and told us that registration will not continue because she is not aware of the notice on the bulletin, which has called on students to resume their registration," Massaquoi said.
He said many students have resolved to call on Dr. Weeks to step aside from the UL presidency. "We want her to resign. She is not doing well to meet the demands of the student body of all the campuses of the University of Liberia. She does not relate to the student leadership or other students easily and has an authoritarian style of leadership," he said, adding that Weeks should have, by now, learned from the past.
UL Student Protest on Registration Closure
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Students laid siege to the UL auditorium, where Dr. Weeks conducted her meeting (photo: Simeon S. Wiakanty)
UL campus release (center) on the registration process, which agitated students to protest
ULSU President Mawolo Flomo speaks to aggrieved students as riot police look on
Makerous Massaquoi, SIM leader, UL, wants Dr. Weeks to resign. (photo: Simeon S. Wiakanty)
Deputy Police I.G., A.B. Kromah, in a conversation with protesting UL students (photo: Simeon S. Wiakanty)
Dr. Weeks being led away to safety by LNP riot officers.
Reacting to the students' action, the director of media relations of UL, Mrs. Jani Kollie said it is disappointing for students of the state run university to continue to disrupt their own normal learning activities.
She said the ongoing meeting between Dr. Weeks and all the colleges and departments are intended to help take care of the many challenges the University is faced with. "The students' protest is intended for the administration to extend the registration period so as to allow those students who paid their fees in November 2017 to complete their registration process. It is a good idea but one thing here too is that many of the students are not even fair to themselves, nor to the institution," Mrs. Kollie said.
She said a special administrative meeting is scheduled for today to look into the merits and demerits of their demands.
Meanwhile, a team of police officers, led by deputy inspector general of police, Col. Abraham Kromah intervened and escorted Dr. Weeks to safety. The officers took her in a police vehicle and drove her away from the campus, while the students booed at her and chanted slogans of dissatisfaction of her leadership.
There was no arrest by the police and no one was injured.
The campus of the University of Liberia has seen series of demonstrations about registration process, the latest of which was yesterday's protest, with students calling for the resignation of the president of the university.