University of Ghana hall impasse: What we know so far
A decision by the Council of the University of Ghana to eject all continuing students from two halls of residence; Mensah Sarbah Hall and Commonwealth Hall has resulted in a tussle between the management of the school on one hand and students as well as some old students on another hand.
How did it all begin and what is the situation as it stands currently? This piece captures the series of events as they happened chronologically.
Clashes between students of “rival halls”
On the night of August 6, 2022 and the morning of the following day, students of the Commonwealth Hall and Mensah Sarbah Hall engaged in a series of clashes that resulted in some injuries and the destruction of several properties.
In a statement dated August 6, 2022, the management said it had commenced efforts to identify the perpetrators while working to ensure the peace and stability on all the campuses of the university.
The management would later announce a ban on the holding of events and the gathering of students as a measure to curb the violence.
Changes to student’s residence
On the back of the August 5 and 6 clashes, the registrar of the University of Ghana, in a statement issued on December 14, 2022, announced some changes to the residence status for continuing students in the two halls.
According to the directive issued ahead of the 2022/2023 academic year, continuing students of Commonwealth and Mensah Sarbah Halls will not return to their rooms.
“They are to be randomly assigned to available rooms in any of the UGEL and private hostels,” the circular said.
“Continuing female students of Mensah Sarbah Hall and students with special needs in both halls will not be affected by this measure,” it continued.
The circular further instructed that only Level 100 and graduate students will be assigned to these halls while measures are put in place to ensure that only freshers and graduate students occupy traditional halls.
This will, therefore, see the implementation of a full ‘in-out-out-out’ policy by 2025/2026.
“Subsequently, undergraduate students will vacate the halls at the end of Level 100 and may secure accommodation in the private hostels from Level 200 until completion,” parts of the release said.
Reaction of affected students and old students
The announcement by the management received prompt opposition from the students who sought to utilise various means to register their displeasure.
The efforts by the students have been complimented by some old student groups including the Vandals which is an association of old student residents of the Commonwealth Hall.
Students secure injunction to stop implementation of new hall policy
An Accra High Court on Friday, January 6, 2023, granted an interlocutory injunction to prevent the management of the University of Ghana from going ahead to implement its new residential policy.
The injunction was granted on the instance of some eight students who filed a suit at the High Court against the decision by the University.
““IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendant herein is hereby restrained either by itself or its officers, assigns, privies, agents, workmen or anybody working under the Defendant’s instructions from going ahead to implement the decision of the Defendant, dated 26th October 2022 in respect of the residential policy decision affecting continuing students of Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana. The status quo must be maintained, as it used to be before the 26th October 2022 decision was taken,” the High Court ruled.
Response by University management
In reaction to the order by the court, the Registrar of the University of Ghana, Emilia Agyei-Mensah in a statement dated January 10, 2023, said the institution will fight the injunction.
“Management of the University of Ghana has received a copy of an order for injunction issued by the High Court, Commercial Division, Accra. This order was secured by eight (8) persons purporting to be residents of the Commonwealth Hall. The order is valid for ten days (10) only as it was made without prior notice to the University. The order seeks to restrain the university from implementing a residential policy decision affecting continuing students of Commonwealth Hall.
“The university believes that the order was obtained on the basis of inaccurate information. Accordingly, the lawyers of the University have been instructed to vigorously defend the University in court,” the statement said.
The registrar added that the university in the meantime, “would like to assure all students, parents and guardians that, while respecting the court order, the University would put in place adequate measures to create a conducive environment for teaching and learning and research.”