When I was SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, there was a problem the SRC discussed with management a number of times but didn’t find a solution.
Classes closed at 8pm, but the library closed at 4pm. This means the evening students who wanted to use the library were denied the opportunity. Their classes started at 4pm.
The management of GIJ agreed with the students Representative Council (SRC) that the problem needed to be fixed. The library staff had said they didn’t have a vehicle to convey them home if they closed at 8pm, so they closed at 4pm, put the library in order and left at 5pm. Each time we met the management of the Institute, they told us they would fix the problem, but they did not. The problem existed before I became the SRC president.
One Friday, I went to the library a little before 4pm. Then came the annoying announcement again:
“It’s time. We’re about to close the library so everybody should leave,” one staff member announced.
“Nobody should leave this library!” I hit a table with my fist and declared. “We’re closing at 8pm today. If anyone wants, let them close the library and we’ll know who owns this school.”
The students who were leaving returned to their seats. Nobody moved. A few minutes later, I was called to the office of the registrar, Mr. Ebenezer Anim.
“President, the librarian has told me what has happened, but I’m begging you….” he said.
He said it was already too late that day and that if I gave them that weekend, they would resolve the problem. I agreed and went back to talk to the students. They agreed, and we left the library.
On Monday, the problem was resolved. And the library closed at 8 pm till I handed over and left.
I hate violence. It sometimes leads to disproportionate harm. I, however, agree with John F. Kennedy when he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
When people are made to feel helpless, denied justice and made to believe peaceful dialogues won’t yield anything, violence becomes the only way out.
The violent protests happening in the US is condemnable, but if you consider the fact that previous protests, marches, dialogues and complaints have not resolved the mindless murders of unarmed black men, you cannot help but blame the state too.
The library staff of GIJ felt I had disrespected them but why did management fail to find a solution to a problem that had existed for years but resolved it in a weekend when I adopted an unconventional approach? And as a student leader, what did that mean for the future?