Liberia's University Students Decry Pariah Status and Extravagance
July 31, 2000

Liberia's University Students Union, an umbrella organization of the country's university students, has criticized what it regards as the high level of corruption in the country, and misguided national and international policies that have plunged the country into poverty and made it an international pariah.

"Liberia is too small and weak to assume the status of a pariah state: the growing economic constraints render us totally incapable of withstanding outright international isolation. Amidst threats of sanctions, the [Student] Union is urging Government to explore every available avenue in order to avert the current situation from degenerating any further", the students added, "Government should not overlook the threats of sanctions by pretending that all is calm. Rather, we all should realize that peace in our country is inextricably bound to peace and stability in the Mano River Union zone". They appealed to the United States and the UN to reconsider sanctions as the best way of handling the Liberian regime because, they contended, ordinary Liberians will experience further hardship"

"As can be seen," the students continued, "our domestic policies appear to be focused at creating only two major classes: the affluent and the impoverished. Any such policies that deprave the vast majority of employment and other opportunities are a recipe for division. Consequently, the Union is urging government to ensure the creation of new jobs for hundreds of youth who cannot find employment in their own society."

The students, traditionally vocal on national and international issues, and therefore viewed by successive governments as threats, said: "The resilience of Liberians against the backdrop of growing economic mismanagement and the recalcitrant extravagant life styles of a minute segment of society cannot be overemphasized. The spiraling pomposity of those who continue to live, conceitedly, within the arrogance and falsehood of supremacy and indispensability over their compatriots primarily because of their ready access to the nation's wealth must be discouraged".

The students said Liberia, which celebrated its 153rd Independence, has lost the meaning of independence. Since the 1997 elections that brought Charles Taylor to power, the students noted, "the true meaning of independence is still strikingly bizarre to the ordinary Liberian, whose life style has remained untouched despite our unchecquered period of existence as a nation."

The university students opposed the current war in the north of the country, contending that "continuous wars and the orchestration of dubious scenarios will only open up old wounds and heighten tensions among an already pauperized population. The Union strongly believes that the mature handling of potentially explosive situations is required in order not to plunge Liberia back into another round of bloodbath". But the students said they "refuse to join the bandwagon of those who are blindly avoiding the truth. The Union believes that the problems in Liberia today are due to Government's failure to formulate distinctively pragmatic, domestic and foreign policies that will be patterned after the principles of Nationalism. Sadly enough, both our domestic and foreign policies have been ambiguous, and at present it is imperceptible which posture Liberia has adopted as a vital member of the global community."

The University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) said it "is appalled by the growing wave of increment in fees at higher institutions of learning. As we cannot survive without education, the Union challenges Government to ensure that illiteracy and ignorance are stamped out, thus the attempts to increase fees at public institutions must be discouraged. At the same time Liberia's relations with the rest of the world have been strained by persistent accusations by the United Nations that our country is directly involved in the Sierra Leonean conflict. Threats of comprehensive sanctions have already been issued by the United States as a result of these unwholesome developments". They however commended the Libyans for renovating one of the buildings on their campus.

The University of Liberia was invaded in the 1980s by late President Samuel Doe. The incident left many students wounded and women raped. There were unconfirmed report of deaths. President Taylor on several occasions has warned the students to desist from criticizing his Government.

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