Many of the few who were at the first Students Chaplaincy Council service for the the second semester on 28th January, 2018 (2017/2018 academic year) in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) would tell you of the news that was brought to the entire students populace by the Dean of students prof. William A. Gariba.
According to the dean, University Hall (Katanga) and Unity Hall (Conti) both of which are mainly male dominated halls would be converted into mixed sex halls on next KNUST admission in the 2018/2019 academic year.
He further indicated that, continuing female students who are interested in staying in the halls would also be allowed room space if they show interest.
To some the news came as a disappointment and to others as a sign of relief to come.
In recent years, both halls have developed bad blood against each other which has resulted in some unnecessary casualties on few occasions.
The issue of conversion of the two male halls into mixed sex halls began in the year 2013 when the University council chaired by the late Paul Victor Obeng sat to decide on converting the two halls. The motion saw overwhelming support from many council members, but for the subsequent intervention of the then Student Representative Council’s president, Mr. Eben Bonsra together with the Grasag President, Mr. Rashid-Kwesi-Etuaful who presented a proposal to the council with maximum assurance of providing solutions to the feud between the two Halls.
Among their numerous proposals included organizing joint orientation, joint games, joint activities among others yet there hasn’t been any solution to the rivalry between the two halls simply because before they even meet for any joint activities, they have backup planes against each other.
But to be able to raise a convincing argument, let’s try to understand both sides of the coin. I may not be in the best position to speak as to why the administration would take their decision. But as a student of politics I have been thought to raise possible arguments to an issue. It is in this light I raise these few arguments.
The first reason I believe is the call for a change of these two halls into mixed sex halls would be the rate at which these two halls continue to fight. There seems to be a fight in almost every semester. Peace agreements have been signed over the years and none of these have yielded any positive results. From the view point of every parent, it is really bad to have two of your children fight against each other to the extent that they hurt themselves all the time.
Also, the fear of a loss of a student’s life also pushes administrators to think of ways of putting an end to this.
Cost of repairs
Another look at the reasons why there would be a push for the change in the gender composition of these two halls is the huge cost of repairs to damages caused by the actions of these students. Over the years they are made to pay under the saying that breakables are payable. But it looks like this isn’t working to the school authorities. So much that these halls are asked to pay three times as much as the price of the items they destroyed.
Tarnishing the image of the school
Last but possibly not the least point for which I can think of the administration taking a decision on this is the fact that the name of the school is said to be tanished by the activities of these two halls. A good name they say is better than riches and like every organisation the school would also like to keep its in check. And hence cut away all infected branches from its tree.
Possibility of a continuous fight
Let’s also take a look at those who may come in strong against this decision on the grounds that the fights would just not end by adding a bunch of females to the male population in these halls. I remember vividly a parliamentary sitting where the Unity Hall president Edmund opened up to why the fights never end. To him, they carry traits of their inter high school fights along with them and hearing about what already happens in KNUST add a new twist to the fight(shortened version).
These fights do not dwell in the male alone but in everyone all they lack is a reason to. An example can be found in the Sarbah and Commonwealth Hall fights. They haven’t ended despite the change of Sarbah into a mixed Hall, rather you have some of the ladies engaged in their fights. With this I believe this isn’t the best possible solution to the feud that exists between these two halls.
Withdrawal of Alumni support
Many of these halls gain support from alumni association who hold affiliations to the halls and support just for the fact that the halls remain what they are. P.V. Obeng a great Alumni of this university always laid his pride in the fact that he was from the male hall Katanga and made it a point to visit the hall during his life till his demise. There are a lot of old students who for this change would withdraw their support not because they support the negative activities that go on in these halls but because they would not feel a part of this new hall which would only bear an old name.
Killing of the spirit within the halls
Though these halls may bear their old names they will never be the same they would bear different characters and this is not the way. I may be one of the few people who have gained a huge amount of courage from one of these halls. Though they engage in bad acts there definitely are good sides to it. There are many who have benefited from the halls actions. Let me take for example the unacceptance of ladies into the male halls; many see this as a bad thing but most of those who have first class are those who had fewer female friends visit, you are stuck with nothing in your room than your laptop, roommates and the others in the hall until you decide to go out. Many come into the university right after senior high school and do not find their bearings automatically until they have been led through the system. These single sex halls though crude in their ways effectively do this.
Loss of Identity
This point reminds me of the 2013 year batch of graduates from senior high school. You ask any of them when and where they completed and they tell you I went to this school, completed in 2013 and I was in the 4th year batch or 3rd year batch. Lol. Yes the next happening would be which hall were you in ‘oooo I was in University hall or Unity hall and I was in the mixed hall period. Wow. I wonder how this would work well. We live to see how that plays out.
Display of weakness and an inability to control the halls
My final point of discussion is this point where this decision seems to display a huge weakness and inability to control these halls that they have to cut them off. In creating an analogy of the situation; it looks like a sick man whose illness is not known to the people in the vicinity and hence his disease seems incurable so to them the last and only resort is to leave the man to die(or kill him to save him the suffering). Meanwhile somewhere else people have been cured of the similar disease. Too many sanctions do not change a man rather they become ingenious by finding ways around the sanctions to satisfy themselves. I pray the university would let down some rules for already, the school is becoming a senior high school. Let the systems work!! High offices should remain at the top and let us empower the student leaders, not make them afraid of you.
But I want to ask, apart from these two male halls which other halls do win awards in the name of the university?
On this note I’d like to call on the leadership of both halls and the entire student leadership on campus to come together as one and with one accord to preserve these two halls. I have before asked that these two halls let down their egos and come together because it is in togetherness they will be able to withstand any opposition and also solve a humongous portion of student problems in KNUST and possibly the nation. This call doesn’t end upon the executives only rather an extension to Hall masters, Hall tutors and Senior Common Room (SCR) membership.
Credit: Festus Akyuuro/John Esssien/essienlive.com