Old Vandals Association (OVA) has gnashed its teeth at the Vice Chancellor of and management of the University accusing them of deliberately frustrating the Association and its activities.
Addressing a news Conference in Accra on Wednesday, the President of OVA Lawyer Isaac Nketsiah Sarpong explained that the deep-seated dislike, unwarranted attacks coupled with arbitrary decisions against Vandals and Common Wealth Hall by current University Administration, lend credence to that fact.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to achieve the long-standing intention of immobilising student-activism, the University Management introduced a policy targeted at dismembering the Commonwealth Hall by sacking all students from the hall at the start of the 2022/2023 academic year. The said policy was ostensibly premised on the so-called clashes involving students of the Commonwealth Hall and the Mensah-Sarbah Hall.
President of Old Vandals Association (OVA), Lawyer Isaac Nketsiah Sarpong addressing the media
What is most bizarre about this decision is that, as of today, there is no conclusive evidence as to who the persons who engaged in those dastardly acts in the first week of August 2022 were. This notwithstanding, the Hall Master, the Senior Tutor, and students of the Commonwealth Hall have been handed sanctions of various degrees without due process being observed”, Mr. Nketsiah Sarpong fumed.
He said inspite of their effort to support their alma mater with the construction of a 4,600-bed residential facility, nicknamed the Vandal City Annex Project (VCAP) the University authority is kicking against this laudable initiative.
The President of Vandal therefore accused the University Authority of scheming to send OVA into extinction.
He later condemned the arrest of 17 Students who were engaging in vigil on campus stressing that allegations of rivalry between Common Wealth Hall and Mensah Sarbah Hall [which formed basis for the actions by the University] is unfounded.
OVA is therefore calling on relevant institutions and stakeholders to call the University Authority to order describing their as a dangerous precedent inimical to development of education and students.
Below is the full statement
Statement by the Old Vandals Association on current issues with respect to the discrimination against University of Ghana students in the Commonwealth Hall and the Old Vandals Association by the University Administration – 25th October 2023
Good Day, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am the National President of the Old Vandals Association (OVA) and I speak for and on behalf of the Association.
Thank you for responding to our invitation despite the short notice. We have invited you here today to brief you on some burning issues that touch the very survival of our educational aspirations as a people.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before we proceed, permit us to take this opportunity to express our sympathies to the people who have been severely hit by the floods occasioned by the spillage of the Volta dams at Akosombo and Kpong. All Vandals across the globe share in the plight of everyone affected and we are currently mobilising resources to make our modest contributions towards alleviating their suffering.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Universities are known to be the torchbearers in finding solutions to the many challenges that confront society. Unfortunately, it is obvious that the situation at the University of Ghana currently is the opposite. We are here to draw attention of the nation to some of the dangerous precedents being set at that hitherto known ivory tower, in that, if remedial actions are not taken sooner than later, it may be too late to rescue our beloved Legon from sliding down the cliff.
OVA is a not-for-profit organisation. It is registered at the Office of the Registrar of Companies as a public company limited by guarantee. It has as its objects the promotion of the welfare of the Commonwealth Hall and the development of the said Hall into a first-class residential facility, among others. Its membership is made up of former students of the University of Ghana who spent at least a semester of residence in the Commonwealth Hall. Our track record of contributions to the University of Ghana in particular and the less privileged in society are legendary. We are certainly not here to list them for want of time.
However, a few notable landmark contributions to the University of Ghana, of which we are proud alumni, must be given some attention. The Vandal City Annex Project (VCAP) which, unfortunately, has stalled due to impediments placed in our way by the present University of Ghana Administration, the vehicles donated to the University of Ghana, the provision and maintenance of infrastructure and utilities in the Hall, the various endowment funds set up by our members, scholarships and awards for needy students of the University, especially residents of the Commonwealth Hall.
Unwarranted Attack on Commonwealth Hall and Old Vandals by the University Administration
Ladies and Gentlemen, we hereby place on record that the deep-seated dislike for/of the Commonwealth Hall and Vandals by the current University Administration has no basis.
It is public knowledge that the University of Ghana has been in the news in recent times for all the wrong reasons relating to accommodation challenges faced by students. As part of our efforts to ameliorate the perennial accommodation crisis in the University, we set out to support our alma mater with the construction of a 4,600-bed residential facility. The project which was nicknamed the Vandal City Annex Project (VCAP) was to be undertaken in partnership with a strategic investor and was to be completed some two years ago.
The University leased a parcel of land for this project to OVA. As soon as the contractor mobilised resources to commence construction, some few faculty members of the University started a resistance movement against the construction of the facility. Indeed, we have the Vice-Chancellor on record that she was opposed to the project and that she would do everything in her powers to frustrate the construction of the annex by the Old Vandals Association. This she said whilst she was the Pro-Vice-Chancellor. We struggle to understand what could drive such holders of respectable offices in the University to be so anti-development to such magnitude.
The so-called Mensah Sarbah-Commonwealth Halls rivalry
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a misconception that we need to correct using this medium. We are talking about the Mensah Sarbah-Commonwealth rivalry, so-called. Vandals (of the Commonwealth Hall) and the Vikings (of the Mensah-Sarbah Hall) are the best of friends on campus. This notwithstanding, we so know that, occasionally, a misunderstanding may crop up which may result in conflict. As we speak, members of these two halls are not at loggerheads with each other as some current officers of the University are seeking to portray. Such narratives are just smokescreens to serve as launchpads for unleashing a well-rehearsed agenda against student-activism and progressive developments among students of the University.
Vikings and Vandals have co-existed for decades, reinforcing our respective strengths and successes. We have collaborated more in the protection and defence of student interests than engaging in violent activities. We, as Old Vandals, swiftly condemned in no uncertain terms the perpetrators of the disturbances on campus in the first week of August 2022 and implored the Ghana Police Service to do its utmost to bring the perpetrators to book.
Attack on the Commonwealth Hall and Old Vandals by the current University of Ghana Administration using a new residential policy on accommodation
Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to achieve the long-standing intention of immobilising student-activism, the University Management introduced a policy targeted at dismembering the Commonwealth Hall by sacking all students from the hall at the start of the 2022/2023 academic year. The said policy was ostensibly premised on the so-called clashes involving students of the Commonwealth Hall and the Mensah-Sarbah Hall.
What is most bizarre about this decision is that, as of today, there is no conclusive evidence as to who the persons who engaged in those dastardly acts in the first week of August 2022 were. This notwithstanding, the Hall Master, the Senior Tutor, and students of the Commonwealth Hall have been handed sanctions of various degrees without due process being observed. These are matters engaging the attention of the courts currently and, at the appropriate time, we shall keep you posted on developments.
The Old Vandals were not spared either. Apart from being barred from entering the Hall and its environs, the Management of the University caused the keys and locks to the offices of OVA located in the Hall to be changed and locked us out. It may interest you to know that the offices were assigned to OVA by the Management of the Hall and that OVA spent a decent amount of money to refurbish and equip same for use.
The intervention by Parliament
The harsh and unfair treatment of the Commonwealth Hall students and Old Vandals received the attention of Parliament of Ghana following a statement made on the floor of the House by the Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee, Hon. Dr. Clement Abas Apaak, MP – Builsa South. Both sides of Parliament unanimously had reason to caution the University Administration about their arbitrariness in the making and implementation of policies to extinct Vandals but the Administration would not budge.
Court action and the disrespect of the courts
As believers in fidelity to the rule of law, we have consistently encouraged the affected students to use the appropriate forum for settling grievances relating to the abuse of their fundamental human rights by the University Administration. In that regard, tens of the bold ones sought refuge in the court to intervene by safeguarding their rights and freedoms to education in their quest to attain their educational aspirations.
In the wisdom of the courts, an interlocutory injunction was granted the plaintiffs and the University was retrained from throwing the students out of the Hall at the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year. However, very uncharacteristic of any seasoned higher educational institution, the University authorities virtually ignored the court order.
As apostles and advocates of the rule of law, the affected students did the needful by resorting to the court one more time for the enforcement of the court order. In doing so, an application for contempt was brought before the court against the University and its key officers who disobeyed the court’s order to show cause as to why they should not be punished for disobeying lawful orders of the court.
Several applications to frustrate the hearing of the contempt application were filed by the respondents. the courts dismissed all the applications filed by the respondents for lacking merit. The contempt application was finally heard after desperate attempts by the University Management to block it failed.
Judgement was to be given on 24th July 2023 but the court was not ready so it was adjourned to 26th October 2023 due to the legal vacation. So, we will be back in court tomorrow for the judgement.
The dangerous precedents set by UG under its present leadership
Brutalities visited on students during a peaceful vigil being held in honour of a fallen hero.
On the night of 30th June this year, a group of students gathered peacefully to observe a vigil in honour of one of their colleagues, the late James Lutterodt, a Vandal and a former “National Science & Maths Quiz Star”, whose untimely demise had deeply impacted the student community on the University campus. This rather solemn occasion exhibiting compassion and solidarity with the fallen hero was marred by brutalities visited on the students at the invitation of the University Administration. Again, we struggle to understand what the intentions of the University Administration were by unleashing terror on students whose interests the Administration was ostensibly expected to protect and defend.
Arrest of 17 Students of the Commonwealth Hall
Late last year, seventeen innocent students of the Hall were arrested and brutalised by the Police at the invitation of the University Administration whilst they (the innocent students) tried to enter the Hall following a court order. Some of you were there to cover it. These students were quickly put before the court by the Police and they were remanded for six days. Regrettably, the Police failed to prosecute the innocent students after the court had given them several opportunities. So, the court had no option than to strike it out for want of prosecution. The father of one of the students collapsed upon hearing of what his child had been put through by the Police. He died eventually. May his soul rest in perfect peace. It happened to the innocent students yesterday. It can happen to any one of us today!
Student governance as a lever of democracy is virtually killed through culture of silence
The relevance of student leadership as incubation hub for national leaders cannot be overemphasised. It must be echoed right here that the future of the University of Ghana, situated at Legon – The Hill of Knowledge – of which we are proud alumni, is threatened by the continuous promotion of tyranny, autocracy and administrative arbitrariness at the heart of decision-making. The voices of students through NUGS, SRC, JCR systems that hitherto served as incubation centres for national leaders have now been rendered moribund. As to what the motive of the current crop of leaders at the university are, only time will tell.
The culture of silence that virtually suppresses human rights and freedoms has become the mainstay of the University of Ghana, rendering the atmosphere uncharacteristic of a university establishment.
For us Old Vandals, as alumni of the University we are so proud of, we cannot sit on the fence to see many decades of toil that built the University of Ghana to be destroyed by the serial administrative decisions that lack logic, reason and good conscience to the satisfaction of the egos of people in charge of its administration today.
Old Vandals, as a law-abiding group, we believe in and revere the law. It is in this spirit that we have sought refuge in the courts. Our faith in the judiciary never wavers and we shall continue to use all legitimate tools at our disposal to ensure the return of the rule of law to the campus of the University of Ghana.
God bless the Commonwealth Hall!
God bless the Old Vandals Association!
God bless all of us!
God bless Ghana our Motherland!
We thank you for your attention.