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FIJI: USP staff call for 'soul-searching'

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By Matelita Ragogo

USP Journalism Programme

SUVA: Student leader Veresi Bainivualiku needs to do some "serious soul-searching'' after being fined for an assault on another student last week by the University of the South Pacific disciplinary committee, says the staff president.

And allegations by USP Students Association president Bainivualiku that "some lecturers'' were instigating trouble between indigenous and Indo-Fijians were today labelled "baseless and unfortunate for a student leader".

Association of University of the South Pacific Staff president Dr Biman Prasad said the decision to fine Bainivualiku $150 should be accepted as the disciplinary committee had made its decision following university procedures.

Dr Prasad said student leaders and associations should participate in more fundamental activities like human rights instead of petty issues which had racial overtones.

"Bainivualiku should now be more responsible, fitting for the office he holds. He is a student leader and thus should live by example, leading the students the right way. A student leader should always be respectable,'' Dr Prasad said.

"Bainivualiku needs to do some serious soul-searching. He has an obligation to serve all students and not be aligned to a particular association.''

Dr Prasad said the university was one place to learn the skills of being a future leader of a multiracial community because the university had a wide mixture of students from different ethnic backgrounds.

"Student leaders or associations should be more vigilant about issues and work towards positive ones, especially if it will benefit their future way of life whether regionally or at least in their own country,'' he said.

On allegations by Bainivualiku that "some lecturers'' were involved in instigating trouble between Indo-Fijian and indigenous Fijian students, Dr Prasad said they were "baseless and unfortunate.

"Lecturers really do not care what the students do with their time at the university but of course they will occasionally consult because of the student-lecturer relationship,'' Dr Prasad said.

"As a responsible student leader, Bainivualiku should be encouraging integration between students and their lecturers.''

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