*Students had demanded to be ferried enmasse to attend funeral of fellow student in Mulanje
Millennium University, based at Magalasi operating at the former premises of Superior Hotel along Blantyre-Chileka Road, has suspended 10 students for what has been described as “an unacceptable indiscipline behaviour” when they defied management’s prudence to adhere to CoVID-19 preventive measures.
Reports that reached Nyasa Times on Tuesday were that the students were on strike from attending classes and picketing others to do so following the suspension of their fellow students, who had been deemed to be ring leaders to protests they did on May 11.
An alert from some of the students which was copied to Nyasa Times explains that a 4th-year student, Jewel Lita, died and the University management made arrangements to transport the students who wanted to attend the funeral service at the deceased’s home village in Mulanje.
The students are said to have responded by coming out in a large number of over 185 students but the vehicle that was provided “was not enough to accommodate all” and the students say they asked management to provide another vehicle.
The students claim that this service was not from management coffers but from the funds they contribute annually towards students welfare.
But the students became angry when management refused to provide extra transportation and barricaded any management member from leaving the campus including that of director of quality assurance — whom they detained at the gate “for some 15 to 20 minutes”.
“Unfortunately, after the burial the following day on the 13th May, 2021, the registrar issued suspension letters to only 10 students out of 185 who protested for their welfare,” said the alert from the students, which does not bear any names.
They claim that they every year for their welfare fund “but the school does not take care of the students”.
“We therefore, are asking law enforcers to help these suspended students because they even don’t know how long is the suspension because in the letter it is not even mentioned,” says the statement.
A visit to the campus by Nyasa Times found no students outside the premises but just two armed police officers.
Representing management, Richard Tembo confirmed of the unfortunate death of their student, whom he said had succumbed to some health complications he had suffered for a long time.
Tembo said: “Indeed we informed them that we will provide transportation but we specifically told the students union leaders the number of students we can ferry in view of the CoVID-19 preventive protocols as regards to the number of people to attend funeral services.
“We planned to leave at 9am because the service was to start from 11am but management was surprised to find there were over 150 students who had pitched up when we only provided a 5-toner lorry for representatives of the students and members of management.”
Tembo further said despite relaying to the students through their union leaders that they had to adhere to CoVID-19 preventive protocols, they “adamantly refused to accept it and indicated no one was going to leave until another transportation means was made available”.
“We succumbed to it and arranged another vehicle but they still refused to let the first transportation from leaving, thinking we were lying and only managed to leave for Mulanje after 11am.
“It was an embarrassment for us as management to arrive at the funeral very late and when we returned, it was decided that this kind of indiscipline cannot be tolerated as an institution of higher learning.”
He disclosed that they looked at video footages that were taken of the protests and several students were deemed to be ring leaders, who have been issued with suspension letters “pending disciplinary hearing”.
“We saw this as a misconduct that bordered on intimidation of staff, which is totally unacceptable and we want to set an example that such kind of indiscipline cannot be tolerated here.”
He also said the picketing is to force management to revoke the suspensions but they can’t accept that.
“The affected students were picketing others to stay away from classes but we made arrangements to have police security that any students willing to attend classes should do so without fear of their security.
“We are not stopping anyone from attending classes but we can’t allow those who want to from being stopped from doing so — thus the police security.
“The students that have been suspended shall be called for the disciplinary hearing where they will be free to bring their parents, witnesses or have legal representation.
“It will be after the hearing that we shall make a determination,” Tembo said, adding that management just wants to ensure that they bring up students that are not unruly.
On the annual subscription that is paid, Tembo said this is a membership fee that goes into the coffers of the students union for its operations and that the whole cost of travelling to Mulanje was met by management itself.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :