Students of the University of the South Pacific have weighed in on the leadership row surrounding the university by calling on the USP’s top decision making body, the USP Council to reign in its chairperson who’s also the university pro chancellor, retired Ambassador Winston Thompson of Fiji.
Expressing ‘disappointment and outrage’ at Thompson’s actions, the USP students say they support the call by Samoa’s education minister that the USP Council should “clearly instruct the PC” (Pro Chancellor) to cease and desist from pursuing a new investigation against besieged vice chancellor and president (VCP) of the USP, Professor Pal Ahluwalia.
“I am calling on the rest of the members of the University Council to clearly instruct the PC to refrain from such actions and cease investigations that have been initiated by him against the VCP,” says USP Students Association President Joseph Sua and Vice President Viliame Naulivou.
“The [students] body further joins the Hon. Member from Samoa in cautioning the PC that his action does not carry the intents of the Council and that we will not be held back from joining the council in initiating the proceedings to remove the Pro-Chancellor from Office.”
Both student leaders signed their letter dated 7 April, which was addressed to members of the USP Council. They urge all council members that included representatives of the 12 Pacific island countries that own the university to support Samoa and Professor Ahluwalia.
“The student body has had enough of this rift, we have already seen the grave mismanagement in the past and we cannot risk this governance body to fail from taking actions to protect this very institution that brings pride to the region and to the people of the Pacific.
“We are encouraged by this support from Samoa and call upon other member countries to join us in this good cause of saving our Pacific Institution from the actions of one individual that can seriously put this prestigious organisation at risk.
“I am further endorsing the point that the PC has seriously undermined the Council’s authority by continuing to disrupt and obstructing the VCP from fulfilling his duties as the Chief Executive Officer of the University.
“I note that the Council had sought a commitment from the PC and VCP to work together for the advancement of the University.
“However, the entire student council is disappointed and outraged with the PC’s actions in continuing to seek VC’s suspension.
“I have read the PC’s paper that was submitted in August 19 special meeting that called for the removal of VCP and now with yet another investigation being implemented seriously begs the question of what intentions the PC has?
“The Council did not endorse or approve PC’s paper as pointed out by the Hon. Member from Samoa.
“Additionally, the minutes of the Special Council Meetings have not been made available.
“We sincerely hope that the council takes this matter seriously and looks the actions of the PC in light of all these.”