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80 Students 'Tough Out' Protest Boycott

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By Reggie Dutt
USP's Pacific Journalism Online

SUVA: About 80 students toughed out the midday Suva heat today, boycotting classes in a protest in the University of the South Pacific library grounds over alleged "management inaction" over student complaints.

Sitting under the shade of the palm trees that line the ground, the students sang around the grog (kava) bowl while the rest of the university went about its normal business.

University security personnel were also present at the protest, but the mood was far from rowdy; almost a holiday like feeling hanging in the air.

The five-hour protest began around nine in the morning at the USP Students Association office, where president Veresi Bainivualiku pleaded with the students to take part in the boycott.

At that time there would have been about 30 students present, most of them indigenous Fijians with some Kiribati students. About 5000 students study on USP courses.

Bainivualiku claimed that the association was fighting for students’ rights and that students should support the boycott.

He asked students not to be put off by Vice-Chancellor Esekia Solofa's warnings of disciplinary action. Pacific Journalism Online spoke to three students sitting around listening to Bainivualiku giving his speech. All three were still indecisive about joining the boycott.

"I don’t know the reason for the boycott so I am still deciding whether to join in," said Kiribati student Aiao Gami.

"If it is related to my human rights, then I will join in," he added.

Another Kiribati student, Kabuta Toakarawa, said that since he had no classes for the day, he might join in to see what was going on.

"I know nothing about it and the reasons behind it, but I might join in just the same," he said.

Second year management student Bob Willie from Vanuatu said he would not take part in the boycott because there were better ways of airing the grievances than USPSA's move to boycott classes.

"I don’t think the boycott is good for me because it will affect my studies and lecturers are not going to repeat what they teach," said Willie.

The protest ended at 2pm.


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