By Bullen Bala Alexander
Authorities of University of Juba (UoJ) have defended the suspension of political activities by students inside the university.
At the start of this year’s academic year, the UoJ administration suspended political rallies by students, accusing students of misusing the rallies for disrespecting the administration. The suspension came immediately after students had protested planned tuition fee increment.
In an exclusive interview with the Juba Monitor, Professor John A. Akec, Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba said for the last five years, students were free to talk under their so called political tree, but with recent direction of the political activities, many workers at the university were concerned.
“This year, it has become more political,” Akech said. The students’ writing in the campus, matching holding cards coming in front of the administration shouting to the extent that even workers cannot work on that condition and we said if that is the case we have to suspend it,” he explained.
“Many people came to me, my colleagues of administration, dean of students, even students themselves complained to me about the noise,” Akech added.
The VC said the students sit under the tree criticizing government, students’ union, and college associations who negotiated with the administration during the fees increment for the campus to resume.
“So it is too much, we cannot support this because those college associations are elected, and now the only business under the tree is condemning their own colleagues, abusing them and abusing the administration. I don’t think it is the way to go,” Akech explained.
He said that at the university, “our business is not politics, but to educate the students, saying the culture being developed by the students does not exist anywhere in the region abroad.
Prof. Akec urged students to focus on research and education instead of involving themselves in political activities, saying “criticizing government and university administration in the school campus is just noise but it cannot change anything in this country.”
Akech said with the peace process, people needed to come in common understanding and solve problems amicably either within the University or in the entire country.
He however noted that all challenges facing the University were being worked on by the university administration.
However, student’s political parties condemned the suspension of their activities, saying it was against the freedom of expression, and that it was meant to silence the voices of the vulnerable students from talking about challenges facing them.
Wilson Meyor, a student of social science in the College of Economic Studies said UoJ should guarantee students the right to conduct political rallies, and talk on national issues, as well as challenge government institutions about corruption in the country.
“Within the University, students have the rights to discuss on the constitution of the country, they have rights to talk,” he said. “The ban of the political activities is unlawful and we students condemn it in the strongest terms,” Mayor added.
“We the students are always organized in our rallies and we always organize peaceful rallies. It is the way we train ourselves,” he added.
Mayor said the Minister of Interior should not send “drunken” police officers to enforce the ban on political rallies in the university, saying “the Minister should be held accountable if any students’ life is lost in the campus.
He called on the university administration to lift the suspension.