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Protest march called over ban on student leader

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By Matelita Ragogo and Joe Yaya

USP Journalism Students

SUVA: The Fijian Students Association has called for a protest march on the University of the South Pacific's main Laucala campus next week.

The students are circulating a petition condemning the decision of the university administration to bar the USP Students Association president, Veresi Bainivualiku, from campus.

Bainivualiku was told by university officials on Monday that he was banned from campus until he was due to appear before a disciplinary committee. No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Bainivualiku has been at the centre of controversy since taking office at the beginning of this year - including allegations over misuse of funds, a campaign against the journalism students training newspaper Wansolwara and a bid to close down the radio station, Radio Pasifik.

A complaint was lodged against him by the Association of USP Staff after he allegedly breached confidentiality over a university select committee's recommendation for the next Vice-Chancellor.

His case worsened when he allegedly attacked an Indo-Fijian student leader in front of senior administration and academic staff and students in the library foyer on Friday.

Several attempts to obtain comments from Bainivualiku have been unsuccessful.

But the Fijian Students Association president Jone Fifita criticised the stand taken by the university disciplinary committee in suspending Bainivualiku from campus.

"When a group of Samoan and Tongan students had a punch-up just before the coup, no one was barred from the university, " Fifita said.

"But when it came to Bainivualiku, he was barred straight-away."

During a FSA meeting yesterday, members heard that the association would:

* seek support from other regional student associations;

* seek legal advice on options available to them over their claims of being unfairly treated.

* seek an audience with the Minister of Fijian Affairs, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and the Minister for Education, Nelson Delailomaloma, to discuss a reported submission to both ministries from the university seeking the cancellation of Bainivualiku's scholarship.


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