Makerere University has instituted a committee that will handle students’ disciplinary issues with an aim to address cases of errant behavior at Uganda’s biggest institution of higher learning.
The six person committee which was appointed by the University Council will adjudicate cases relating to indiscipline referred to it as well as the appeals from students dissatisfied with decisions by other disciplinary committees.
It was inaugurated on Wednesday evening at an event held at Makerere University and presided over by the Chairman of Council, Eng. Dr. Charles Wana Etyem. He appointed Ngabirano Precious a Senior practicing lawyer and former Chief Magistrate to head the Committee.
As provided for by the Makerere University Students Regulations 2015, the students’ disciplinary organ also comprises of two representatives of academic staff, a senior member of the administrative staff and a member from the public. Ngabirano is to work with Dr. Rose Nakayi, Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba, the Imam of Makerere Mosque Ahmed Ssentongo, Carolyne Hope Nabaasa and the Committee Secretary Prossie Katongole.
Speaking at the event, the university Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said the Committee will solve the challenge of hooliganism that is tarnishing the institution’s name.
“We must protect this university. We can’t allow a small section of people to tarnish its image. The Committee is to discipline those who want to disturb the peace of the law abiding students,” he said.
The appointing authority, Dr. Wana Etyem too said that the organ was timely, alluding to a recent suspension of Makerere from university games for two years over hooliganism.
“This is a shame. Council demands that the students who caused this havoc are identified and brought to book. We shall not tolerate this behavior that causes problems to others.”
He noted that given the Committee chairperson’s background in law, their rulings will stand and that students will be granted a fair hearing.
The newly appointed student’s disciplinary Committee Chair Precious Ngabirano in his acceptance speech pledged that the organ will exercise its duties judiciously and fairly apply the rules of natural justice to both parties; complainants and the accused.
“The defendant will be given adequate time to prepare their defense and we shall ensure our rule is not biased,” he noted. He, however, urged students to avoid situations that will bring them before the Committee which would taint their record.
However, some student leaders are opposed to the formulation of a disciplinary Committee on which the students are not represented.
The Makerere University Guild President Paul Kato told SoftPower News; “You can not institute a committee that is going to investigate students but you don’t have students there.”
“We are opposing this Committee and disassociating ourselves from the activities of that committee. We are filing a petition to the Council demanding the representation of students.”
The University Management claims that having a student on the Committee would put them (student) in a difficult position and expose them to confrontation from fellow students in an event that a ruling wasn’t in their favor.
But Kato said the excuse to ‘protect’ students’ representatives on the Committee does not qualify.
“Let them not use it as an excuse because if you know that what you have done is right, why would you need protection? In any case, there’s nobody that will understand a student’s case than a fellow student.”
Simon Wanyera, the Academics Minister in the students Guild said the Committee is a ‘sham’ which will do nothing but torture students. Like Kato, Wanyera said a strong disciplinary committee needs to have a students’ voice.