USP Staff President Raps Student Leader
* See PN 3042: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/usp19boycott.html
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Staff Reporter USP's Pacific Journalism Online
SUVA: The University of the South Pacific's staff association today condemned the student leader of making unfounded accusations against academics and called for disciplinary action against him.
President Dr Biman Prasad of the USP Staff Association also criticised USP Students Association leader Veresi Bainivualiku for allegedly stirring up "instability and ill will" among students against staff.
Bainivualiku called for a five-hour campus boycott today in protest against the university administration - but most students ignored the boycott and attended classes normally.
"For the USPSA president, it has become fashionable to go public and make all sorts of unfounded allegations against the academic staff," said Dr Prasad.
"He has even gone to the extent of defining academic freedom for academic staff. AUSPS has written to the management about the behaviour of the USPSA president and the need for the management to take disciplinary action against him."
Bainivualiku, a former Radio Fiji broadcaster, has had several clashes with the university administration this year and was fined $150 in August by the disciplinary committee for "manhandling" an Indo-Fijian student.
In April, he also circulated a bitter tract attacking the journalism training newspaper Wansolwara for exposing controversies over lack of accountability over student funds and the student-run Radio Pasifik.
In a strident open letter at the weekend, Bainivualiku accused the university management of "inaction" over serious complaints, accused lecturers and staff of being involved in politics, and alleged sexual harassment and attempted rape of a student by a lecturer.
Dr Prasad said: "The AUSPS believes that the students have a legitimate right to protest and air their grievances.
"However, AUSPS will take seriously the unfounded allegations that are made against the academic staff.
"We also condemn the attempts by some elements of the students association to create instability and ill will amongst the students against staff.
"I believe that all staff have worked hard in the midst of the political crisis to make the 2000 academic year a success. They deserve praise and not condemnation by the USPSA president and a few of his cronies in the USPSA."
Student Internet chat group messages today ran hotly against the boycott, some accusing Bainivualiku of trying to manipulate the students into waging "a personal vedetta" and trying to stay in political office.
He had cancelled the annual elections in breach of the USPSA constitution.
"The whole USPSA has turned into one person's show," said one student commentator. "It's high time the garbage was cleared off from the association."