LIBERIA: Police Fired Teargas To Disperse Protesting University Students

POLICEMembers of the Liberia National Police on Thursday fired teargas to disperse dozens of students of the University of Liberia (UL) who had gathered before the Capitol Building to demand the Legislature to reverse the decision by authorities of the university to increase tuition.

It can be recalled that the administration of the UL announced increment in tuition fees from US$2.05 to US$4.00 per credit hour for the undergraduate level, and from US$55 to US$75 per credit hour for graduate and professional levels.

The increment, according to protesting students who intruded the premises of the Capitol Building while regular sessions were being held, “is untimely and would cause strenuous economic constraints for many of the struggling masses at the university.”

The students contended that the increment is also “unrealistic” on grounds that the UL is “not fully equipped with laboratory and library supplies”, as well as buses to transport students,, among other social amenities for students.

“We demand action from the legislature,” read a placard, while another read: “What is the essence of increasing tuition when the UL Labs are substandard?”

Following minutes of standoff in the midst of slogans and chanting, the students forced their way into the Rotunda of the Capitol, demanding the presence of the Legislative Committee on Education, but were forced out by riot police.

The situation became volatile when the students refused to give attention to Grand Bassa County Representative Gabriel Smith and Representative Julie Wiah of Lofa County, after they tried to make interventions in the matter.

Following several attempts by the police to contain the students who were moving to the back of the Capitol, the students started throwing stones, leading the police to respond by firing teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.

It is not known what would be the students’ next action, but several others have already completed registration in full compliance with the proposed fees increment while the administration has also confirmed that classes at the UL are now in session.

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About Cholo Brooks 14321 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.