UL Instructors Boycott Classes

By: Martin C. Benson

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 20, 2004

Instructors at the nation’s highest institution of learning, the University of Liberia(UL), yesterday laid down their chalk as a sign of protest over Tuesday’s news broadcast that the Executive Mansion has appointed Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh as president of the institution.

Dr. Conteh was reportedly appointed by NTGL Chairman Bryant from a shortlist of three individuals including Dr. Kollie, who has been acting as the UL’s president, a decision which has not gone down well with the UL faculty members thereby prompting their protest action of boycotting classes yesterday.

Students who turned up for regular classes yesterday as early as 8 a.m., were stunned with the outright absence of instructors and professors in class because of the boycott.

Interestingly, as classes were cancelled for the day, students were seen in various groupings on the main campus in heated arguments over the merits and demerits of the professors’ action while a general emergency meeting by the University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) was simultaneously being held to discus a one-item agenda relative to their official response to the appointment of Dr. Conteh.

From what was gathered on the UL main campus, students were observed to be in support of their instructors’ action but were keen to note that they as students were poised to be victimized therefore while the grievances of the teachers was being channeled through the appropriate medium, the professors should reconsider their decision to pending the resolution of the matter.

However, following the more than five-hour meeting among ULFA members, a four-count resolution was adopted in which they maintained that the process of the appointment of the UL’s prexy and its outcome by NTGL Chairman Bryant be revisited and that the Board of Trustees of the University of Liberia be fully reconstituted before it can exercise full authority in capacities such as appointment.

Also, a position statement issued by Associate Professor Lavela S. Pewee, President of ULFA said, the association would insist that of the four local applicants for the position of president of the University, one be preferentially considered; and that the revisitation of the appointment process be given prompt attention to ensure that our brothers, sisters sons, and daughters continue their educational sojourn uninterrupted in the next few days.

Professor Pewee told The INQUIRER that their action is a non-violence one and they are optimistic that their grievances will be addressed today but was quick to maintain that instructors will not return to classes until the Government responds positively.

He said the position statement on their concerns was being addressed to Chairman Bryant, NTLA Speaker George Dweh, the Chairman of the Religious Council of Liberia and the Women in Peace Network adding, “because we want peace and not violence”.

In reaction to the situation on campus of the UL, the Student Unification Party (SUP) said it has started negotiations with the relevant authorities in resolving the stalemate but warned that if up to 6:45 yesterday the matter was not resolved, there will be a mass meeting of all university students to curve a new course of action.

As for the Student Integration Movement(SIM), said it believes and upholds the rule of law that nomination power is within the jurisdiction of the Visitor to the University of Liberia and confirmation be done by the UL Board of Trustee as per the magna Charta of the UL adding, “we understands and sympathize with the plight of the teachers let them go to classes and establish their prima facie justification that will meet the acquiescence of the sympathy of the student body”.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.