By Desmond Jones
Students of Fourah Bay College (FBC) on Friday barricaded their campus with sticks, burning tyres and other offensive items as a way to protest the rustication of about 31 of their colleagues.
The violent protest continued on Saturday, despite police intervention.
The action of the students has put on hold, until further notice, the ongoing second semester examinations of the college.
The affected students were rusticated for refusing to vacate the college hostels, which the authorities claimed they had occupied illegally. Furthermore, the college authorities in a press statement issued in the college campus on Thursday 2nd August 4, 2012 stopped the affected students from taking the second semester examination.
The atmosphere of the college campus was chaotic as the students riotously attacked major offices, examination halls and forcefully closed them with giant padlocks. Normal administrative operations of the college were also disrupted as officials were refused access to their offices. The operator on duty at the Mount Aureol Radio was violently unseated and the students raided the radio’s main studio and, like soldiers ousting a sitting government, they grabbed the microphones and broadcast to the nation:
“We’re going to burn Fourah Bay College…!”
A student correspondent for AYV Radio 101.6 FM claimed he was publicly attacked and intimidated by some senior members of the Student Union Government for taking pictures of the scene and records of the event.
Deputy Minister of Education of the Students Union Government, Sidi Mamadu Bah, told AYV their action was meant to communicate to the college administration and national stakeholders that they were not pleased with the decision to rusticate 31 of their colleagues.
He said the punishment levied against their colleagues was disproportionate to the crime they were charged with.
He said they have held several press conferences and have issued a number of press statements wherein, as a responsible Student Union Government, they appealed to the authorities to reconsider their decision.
Furthermore, Bah said the rusticated students also appealed but the administration plaid deaf ears to all pleas and stopped the students from taking the second semester examination.
Expressing her feelings about the incident, a female student who prefers anonymity said she was displeased with the cancellation of the exams she had prepared so well to take. However, she said she would not feel comfortable writing an examination when 31 of those she would work with in the future to build Sierra Leone into a better place were being rusticated and deprived of their right to university education.
Meanwhile, she called on the administration to temper justice with mercy by reviewing their decision and allow her colleagues get through their exams.
The President of the college’s Student Union Government, Seaman Alie Mans-Conteh described the administration’s decision as crazy and outrageous.
“How can you rusticate students for staying in the college’s hostels? A fine would have been more appropriate; but to stop them from taking their examination and drive them away, that’s way too high-handed,” said Mans-Conteh.
He says their position as a student body is for the administration to vindicate all the 31 students and allow them to continue their exams.