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KNUST in Deep Crisis. Students and Authorities Must Compromise

Anytime a public educational institution erupts in violence, and students go on rampage destroying everything in their sight, and authorities invariably shut down the institution, it denotes one significant dynamic — a break down in law and order.

This is precisely what occurred last week at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Students had taken the law into their hands and hapless campus authorities overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the situation, had to call in the army and police to effectively take control of the campus from the rampaging students.

The events at the renowned university did not come as a surprise. They had been building up in bit and pieces, slowly, over time. That university authorities did not realize the gravity of the situation until things got out of hand is mindboggling.

It is easy to dismiss the upheaval at Tech as the handiwork of pin-headed students; some will even describe it as youthful exuberance at its worst. But there is more to it than meets the eye. Realistically, the students had grievances which they desperately wanted university authorities to address with all the urgency they deserved.

However, the university dragged its feet, and not unexpected, frustrated and exasperated students waiting for an opportunity to vent their anger, seized on the university’s lukewarm attitude to embark on a path of mayhem and destruction.

And, what we have on our hands now is a university in deep crisis. It has been prematurely shut down and the entire student body sent packing, their academic work cut short and the future looking bleak.

Not since the height of the Rawlings revolution in the 1980s, has a Ghanaian university been closed down. This is historic.

Much as it is fashionable to point an accusing finger at university authorities since they are the adults in this ongoing saga, students too, deserve a portion of the blame. Their behavior was appalling and uncalled for.

They literally broke the law with the destruction they visited on public and private properties. They should be held to account. Their grievances and complaints should have been properly channeled. I believe the university has provisions for students to lodge complaints with the right campus authorities.

No one is taking sides here; there are two competing narratives. The students want authorities to be at their beck and call, and authorities on the other hand demand that students comply with university regulations.

There has to be a compromise, a middle road. By all accounts, this is a very complex problem, one that requires tact and diplomacy.  Any rush to judgment will only further complicate issues.










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