Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Students quit Unitech campus



MOST students at the University of Technology in Lae have left the campus and apparently abandoned the six final weeks of the academic year, The National reports.

While the Unitech administration was counting on normal classes to resume today, only a handful of students from other provinces, along with those from Enga and international students, mainly from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, were left at the Taraka campus along with the East and West Sepik male students.

Many students from other highlands provinces had left the campus with six bus and truckloads of Chimbu students, out of fear of retribution, hurriedly leaving for Kundiawa last Saturday, courtesy of their provincial administration and the Morobe provincial government.

Many other students, not wanting to be caught in the crossfire between Simbus and Sepiks, were living off campus awaiting resumption but dreading that the Unitech council may not extend the school year.

Sepik students at the campus were adamant the academic year should not resume unless the Chimbu student perpetrators, allegedly involved in the killing of a first-year applied physics student last Thursday night, were arrested and prosecuted and the university administration gave them assurances to safeguard their lives. 

The Sepiks met with Unitech registrar Allan Sako and acting vice-chancellor Prof Mohammed Sater yesterday morning in relation to a petition they presented to the university administration last Saturday evening which, among other things, called for the investigation, arrest and prosecution of Chimbu students alleged involved in the clashes and the death.

The petition also demanded the removal of Kuima Security, which guards the campus premises, saying they failed to maintain peace during the fights.

The university administration was also blamed for not doing enough when the fights first started last Tuesday, resulting in the hospitalisation of a student.

Sepik students were angered that the university had failed to report last Tuesday’s initial fight to Lae police which, they said, could have deterred further clashes last Thursday evening. 

In response, the administration said police investigations were underway with Sepik and Chimbu students, security personnel and university officers being interviewed.

Sako said the Unitech council would meet to consider security measures at the campus.

He said Chimbu students, allegedly involved in the fight, would be identified and dealt with under existing university rules and regulations with termination a possible option.

The same course of action, the university said, would apply to students from East and West Sepik who were found to have breached these same regulations.

There was a slight altercation at the student mess yesterday afternoon when Western Highlands students, prevented from eating at the mess, stoned an Engan student who was allowed to use the facilities.

The Sepik students were angry that a Western Highlands student, known to them, was instrumental in the fight at the mess last Thursday resulting in the death of a Sepik student.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, who is also East Sepik MP, had insisted that a report on the campus killing and fight be sent to him by yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge said he was saddened by the events and offered to assist Sepik students “in any way possible”.

Security measures on campus were being beefed up with heavy mobile police presence.


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