I am an undergraduate student at Makerere University. After two days running up and down, Makerere University students last week successfully thwarted the university’s new policy to increase graduation fees. This is an illustration of students’ power to influence university reforms.
As a technique of publicly expressing anger and call for reforms, protests are influential in turning everything around. Makerere students have mastered the art and science of striking whenever they feel let down by university policies.
The university embraces representative democracy where students are represented by the students’ leaders. However, students sometimes feel betrayed by their leaders who watch as policies are discussed and endorsed by the University council. These leaders too hardly consult students.
During last week’s strike, students were led by guild president Ivan Bwowe which indicates that students’ leaders were not consulted before implementing graduation fee increment policy. Prior to the strike, the guild president organised a press conference where he gave the administrators a one week ultimatum to respond to issues raised by his government or face student’s wrath.
Reforms are a prerequisite if the university is to waddle forward financially and academically. The main question is: How can the university administrators introduce reforms without stirring up students to protest. In my view, the university can directly engage students through dialogues.
After designing a new policy, before tabling them to the university council, for example, administrators can organise discourses in different colleges, explain to students why such policies are being initiated and what could be their benefits.
Administrators can win hearts of many students who can be part of the policy implementing force from the start rather than dissenting group attempting to frustrate university programmes.
To fellow students, we must identify our enemies clearly during strikes. There is no justification to feast on Kikoni residents’ shops, destroying cars and university buildings and staging road blocks demanding payments from innocent bypassers. We can achieve our targets peacefully.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor