World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


USP Chief Warns Campus Over Race, Politics

* See background links on Pacific Journalism Online:

USP Pacific Journalism Online: USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): Have your say:

Staff Reporters

SUVA: Vice-Chancellor Esekia Solofa has warned staff and students of the University of the South Pacific they risk being suspended for any ethnic or political offence "likely to damage trust" between campus communities.

"This includes provocative comments or criticisms made within or outside the community, leaflets, graffiti and any kind of personal intimidation or harassment," he said.

"Persons guilty of such actions show that they do not belong in our university community and will be removed.

"Our task is teaching and learning, and we must take action to preserve our freedom to get on with it."

Last month, university authorities fined USP Students Association president Veresi Bainivualiku $150 for "manhandling" an Indo-Fijian student in an incident which stunned the campus for more than a week.

Association of University of the South Pacific Staff president Dr Biman Prasad said the student leader needed to do some "serious soul-searching'' after the fine.

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

Writing in a memorandum dated September 22, Vice-Chancellor Solofa said there had been "certain trends" which were worrying the university since Fiji's political crisis began on May 19.

He said that the regional university in general could be proud of its record in promoting understanding on racial, national, religious and political issues.

The university community had often set a "shining example" - notably at Fiji's Laucala campus where "large numbers of Fijians, Indians, other Pacific Island and international students, Christians, Hindus, Muslims" lived, worked and shared together.

"However, as we have faced a renewed challenge from outside events in the last few months, I have sensed some deterioration in these relationships and tensions and suspicions among the members of our community," Solofa said.

"It is time for each of us to do what we can to reduce them and restore the peaceful atmosphere needed.

"Threats and counter-threats by members of different groups against others which put at risk the university's special mission cannot be tolerated."

Solofa also reminded heads of schools, institute directors and other senior staff to refrain from all public political activity.

He reminded staff not to use university facilities for political purposes.

In June, at the height of the political crisis, Solofa circulated a memo to USP staff and students which was widely interpreted as a "gag" on public comment on the coup and its aftermath. The journalism training website, Pacific Journalism Online, was also closed for a month.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


CNS: Will India's 1 Billion Vaccination-dose-milestone Be Catalytic For Vaccinating All?

On 21 October 2021, India crossed its milestone of administering over 1 billion (100 crores) doses within 278 days since it began the vaccination rollout (on 16th January 2021)... More>>

UN: UNHCR Chief Urges Better Support For 13 Million 'Exhausted' And Displaced Syrians
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged greater international support for the more than 13 million Syrians who’ve been displaced in the past 10 years...More>>

>UN: Recent Kosovo-Serbia Tensions Could ‘Unravel Steady But Fragile Progress’

Tensions over vehicle licence plates and anti-smuggling operations, between authorities in Kosovo and Serbia, in recent weeks, may contribute to unravelling “steady but fragile progress made in rebuilding trust among communities” in Kosovo and Serbia...

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>

COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>

UN: Global Leaders Set To Act To Increase Energy Access While Reducing Emissions At First UN Energy Summit In 40 Years

Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy... More>>