''Unwarranted''..College President describes studentsí violence against College Board in Margibi

The President of Harco Community College in Margibi County, Dr. Syrulwa Somah, has vehemently condemned as “unwarranted” recent violent disruption of the College’s Board Meeting by students of the college. Members of the Collage Board of Trustees were holding a meeting on the school campus in Harbel, Margibi County, when students of college violently disrupted the meeting. Dr. Somah told the INSIGHT in Margibi County that the action of the students was not only unwarranted but also has the tendency of creating bad image for the institution. “The students have legitimate reasons to appeal for funding for the college, but, I do not support the manner in which the protest was staged,” said Dr. Somah. Hundreds of angry students on Thursday, August 30, 2018, disrupted the college’s board meeting which was being held on the college campus. The aggrieved students, during the protest, demanded the replacement of the College Board of Trustees. They accused the College Board, headed by former Margibi County Senator, Davis S. Menyongai, who is also former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, of doing nothing to improve the status of the college. The students also accused the Board of Trustees of the college of micromanaging and instituting a ‘dysfunctional management’ at the College that is stalling their progress. “This do-nothing Board of Trustees does not care for the students. It is dysfunctional under its very-slow-to act chairman, David Menyougai,” Spokesperson of the aggrieved students, Jupor Gborkerquelle, said during the protest on campus. However, Dr. Somah, while condemning the action exhibited against the College Board members by the students said it is “unfair” that one board member’s signature would keep stalling financial transactions at the College. “If the chair [board chair] travels, the college is stranded to go about with projects due to financial constraints. The college is autonomous and should be free to operate on its own. The students are free to advocate for funding but their advocacy should not create problems for the institution,” Dr. Somah averred. He also clarified that College Board members were not chased out of the institution during the meeting but rather left the scene due to the disruption of the meeting by the students. At the same time, Dr. Somah refuted recent media report that the Government of Liberia has given the College US$300,000. “The US$300,000 was a slip of tongue and that amount was not received. It was a proposal, requesting the construction of an additional 350 classrooms. But due to financial constraints, it was not made possible,” he further told the INSIGHT. He said the Board of Trustees of the College had no dealing with such money had it been given to the College. Dr. Somah called on the Board of Trustees of the college to build confidence in his leadership, instead of harboring any suspicions over his operation at the college. Dr. Somah further stated that there has been some level of progress at the college since the students’ violent protest but he expressed regret for the students’ violent and unwarranted action. Though their actions contravene good conduct at the school, the Harbel College President believes the institution is under obligation to take responsibility for the action by the students. However, Dr. Somah cautioned the students to channel their grievances through peaceful means rather than creating an “embarrassing situation” for members of the Board of the Trustees of the institution. Effort by the INSIGHT to locate and talk with Mr. David Menyongai, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the College on the protest by the students against the Board could not materialize up to press time yesterday.

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