The leadership of ATLANTIC HALL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION (AHAA) is very much saddened by reports that some 21 Mariners, mostly executive and hall week planning committee members, have been rusticated for their alleged involvement in disturbances that occurred at Oguaa Hall in March this year. AHAA is more saddened by the unilateral approach adopted by University management in their resolve to deal with the issue. This approach defeats logic, is very backward and very deficient with common sense. It is very colloquial and smacks on modern methods of conflict resolution.
AHAA in no uncertain terms condemns violence in whichever way they manifest. In fact we were quick to condemn the riot and call for a full scale investigation into the disturbance so we find a lasting solution that will deter such occurrences in future. What we did not know was that the University management and the Central Regional Police, in an attempt to cover up their ineffectiveness wanted to hold Hall leadership for their own lapses.
By this verdict, management has completely absorbed itself of blame and has, with the help of a one sided media, caused us all to believe the students created the mess. But we wish to make known these facts so we can all appreciate the facts and interrogate the issues dispassionately.
1. The Hall Executives prior to the organization of the Cultural and Heritage Night, informed the DEAN OF STUDENTS the program was exclusive for Atlantic Hall Members and that no other hall from any other University was invited. To buttress this, our Senior Hall Tutor advised the Dean of Students to tighten up security at all the entrances and prevent any group of students from entering the University campus.
2. Atlantic Hall executives prior to the organization of the hall week had craved the attention of the OFFICE OF THE DEAN OF STUDENTS (ODS) that considering the sheer numbers and expectations of the celebration, they required of that office to beef up security purposely for the event so as to curb any unforseen disturbances.
3. The ODS accepted the request of the hall executives but charged them an amount of GHC 2,000 if they required extra security. The amount was negotiated down by both JCRC and HALL COUNCIL to GHC 1,500 which was duly paid from the account of the JCRC. While we hold firmly, that paying for security is no panacea to foment trouble we expected the police and University security to have provided us with enough security and value for money.
3. It is also worthy to note that apart from an initial invitation to the police station to write their statements, these 21 students were never asked to be part of any investigation whatsoever to find out the causes of the disturbances and how to possibly remedy it. This suggests that, in the mind of management, these students were already culpable and their heads needed to roll.
4. Even if the University management established a Prima Facie case against these 21, it was only prudent that they be given an opportunity to respond to the charges labeled against them.
5. Again in a widely circulated notice of rustication that is flying highly on social Media, this is how management captions the notice “The following students have with effect from the second semester of the 2016/2017 academic year been rusticated from the University for the periods indicated against their names for roles they played in the Disturbances at the Oguaa Hall on Friday, 17th March, 2017 during the 2017 Atlantic HALL WEEK celebrations.’
Again, management mentioned their crimes as ‘roles they played in disturbances at Oguaa Hall on Friday..’ Management fell short of telling us what the specific roles of these 21 students were. How they were directly or indirectly linked to the disturbances lies in the heads of our authorities.
It is our belief therefore that;
-the failure of the police to provide the needed security that were paid to render,
-the inability of the University management to engage the 21 students investigative processes,
– the failure of the school to mention the specific crimes of these people, all point to one unavoidable conclusion: that there is a grand heinous scheme to punish these 21 for the inaction of the people supposed to take actions.
In the wake of this unfortunate event, many have given their own interpretations to the things particular as covered by the one sided media. Some of the commentaries are borne out of frustration and emotions. We further wish to establish these facts.
1. The program outline for the hall week was drafted by the planning committee of the celebrations and later submitted to the JCRC for consideration. The JCRC met with the planning committee and approved the program outline but subject to review by the Hall council. Hall Council made their amendments to the program outline which received concurrence from the ODS.
2. In all the discourse, there is no documentary evidence whether written or oral that some students from other universities were invited to be part of the celebrations. Indeed, nobody has cited such an invitation and so it’s very unfounded the claims that some sister halls were invited.
3. In any case, whiles the discourse mostly mentions Vandals as people who fomented this trouble, it beats logical imagination how these students could walk into such an organized institution, create trouble and walk away seamlessly. What happened to the university security system? What happened to the officers who guarded the various entry and exit points in the university? What was security doing that a single arrest couldn’t be effected.
4. It’s even more disheartening to observe that apart from failing woefully to arrest any of the culprits, the university management has exonerated residents of Oguaa Hall and rusticated 21 Mariners. Not even a single person has been mentioned from a hall that was actively part of the disturbance. Management probably want us to assume they were either asleep or engaged in some religious ritual when suddenly their hall was besieged. Or is the case that the least affected hall is innocent?
Once again, we are very clear in our heads that the exoneration of Oguaa Hall and the purposeful malice attributed to the narration confirms yet again an entrenched position to at all cost bring specific people to book.
In conclusion, we wish to make the following points strongly and state more emphatically that will resist all attempts to use of boys as scapegoats.
1. The onus does not lie on JCRC executives or planning committee members to ensure security in the University. They cannot be held liable for the actions and inactions of students. They cannot be rusticated because they can’t produce culprits of crimes. More so when they have not been part of any investigative process.
2. There is enough evidence, both audio and video, that suggest that disturbances at Oguaa Hall had nothing to do with Atlantic Hall members or the 21 students. If the widely circulated video is not enough evidence to institute a serious investigation then what more can convince management these boys are innocent.
3. Clearly these happenings and of course previous happenings have exposed the lapses in the campus security system. Lapses that these 21 can not be held responsible for especially as they did their best to prevent all such situations.
4. What happens to the police men who disgracefully failed on duty and watched on as these disturbances unfolded? Particularly as they had already been paid.
5. What happens to the head of security in the University of Cape coast whose men also failed pathetically and allowed violence to go on without a single shred of evidence.
6. What happens to the Dean of students whose office approved of the program outline and was supposed to closely monitor the celebrations.
7. What happens to the Hall Council who directly supervised the celebration and released funds for the event?
8. What happens to the University council who administrate and govern the school.
To surpass all these actors and ask 21 students to produce culprits of the disturbance, for which reason they have been rusticated, is barbaric, evil, ungodly, inhumane, insensitive and machiavellian.
Meanwhile leadership of AHAA has resorted to legal process and will duly Institute the legal process on Monday if the University acts recalcitrant and does not recall their rustication.