Monday, September 06, 2010

Fleeing Unitech students asked to return to classes

THE University of Technology administration has urged students who have left the campus to return for classes starting today, The National reports.

Many of the students left the campus after violence flared again between two ethnic groups last Thursday night, which resulted in the death of a first year engineering student.

The senior executive management and heads of departments met and agreed to suspend classes last Friday and resume today while efforts were made at the weekend to bring the groups involved together to reconcile.

The university administration also quickly moved to beef up security on campus with the engagement of a police mobile squad and increasing the number of security guards by private contractor Kuima Security Services and the university’s own security staff.

Lae metropolitan commander Chief Supt Nema Mondiai also assured that more policemen would be deployed on campus should the need arise.

Acting vice-chancellor Prof Mohammed Satter and registrar Allan Sako met with the student representative council executive and leaders of student groups, especially from the Highlands provinces, last Friday and assured them that security measures were in place to ensure the safety of the students.

They told the students the mobile squad 14 from Goroka would be based on campus until the situation is back to normal.

Other measures imposed included:

* Restrictions on movement of staff, staff dependents, students and the public in and out of the campus from 10pm daily until further notice;

* Restrictions on vehicles moving in and out of the campus from 10pm daily;

* Restrictions on ethnic or regional meetings or gatherings on campus; and

* Emphasising the existence of the zero tolerance policy on alcohol and drugs.

Police and security staff have been directed to strictly police the measures.  Any student, staff, staff dependent or member of the public who breaches the restrictions would be dealt with under the university rules and the laws.

The measures follow the killing of a first-year electrical engineering student last Thursday night on campus.

The student died after being attacked with sticks and stones and stabbed during the fight.

Another student sustained serious injuries and is in critical condition at the Angau Memorial Hospital.

A third student is also recovering at Angau, where he was admitted with serious head injuries last week.

Last Thursday, the students involved in the first fight met and agreed on a truce, shook hands and reconciled. Later that evening, the fight erupted again, this time involving a larger group.

Satter, while expressing regret and dismay at the continuing violence perpetrated by a minority of the students, appealed to everyone, including the public to adhere to the restrictions so as to bring about normalcy on campus.

He urged those students that left the campus to return and allow for lectures to resume on Monday (today), adding the university had not closed.

Satter also appealed to the concerned students and student groups to stop the violence and allow the normal process of the law to take its course and for negotiations with the disputing parties for an early resolution.

He said the administration did not want the students’ studies to be disrupted any further, with just five weeks left before the final examinations.

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