Monrovia – It’s been over a month since the University of Liberia graduated its 97th class in December 2016 and these graduates are still complaining about the delays in receiving their full package of souvenir items.
The recent graduates of the state run university are frustrated over the delays, while some of them term it as a “complete deception and doesn’t represent the integrity of Liberia’s premiere university”.
Some blame the graduating class leadership for the problem while others are pointing accusing fingers at the UL administration for interfering thus creating the unnecessary delays.
But an authority at the UL is confident that despite these delays, graduates of the 97th class will received all their souvenir items before the end of January.
Ahead of this year’s ceremonies graduates were requested to pay US$280.00 as fees, prompting dissatisfaction from students who complained about the increment amid the economic challenges in the country.
With the 11th hour rush and several delays in acquiring graduation items, many candidates appeared even more disappointed due to the frequent postponement in the arrival of souvenir items before the scheduled graduation ceremonies.
“I term this as a deception on the part of the class leadership and those that are in the UL administration that are responsible and could not collaborate with the class leadership to ensure our packages were delivered,” complains Alycious S. Worloh, a graduate of the 97th graduating class.
Worloh, a graduate of the Business College, says the UL administration and the graduating class leadership are equally culpable of the delays, while calling on the administration to ensure all recent graduates received their souvenir items.
For McArthur G. Dahnkuan, another graduate of 97th class, he’s not surprise at the ongoing situation, because according to him, the graduating class leadership was a novice to the workings of student activities at the state run university.
“Even prior to graduation we felt discourage but we were determine to pursue our academic sojourn no matter the obstacles,” Dahnkuan said, recalling the unbearable huddles he faced days before his graduation ceremony.
Dahnkuan contested and lost the graduating class leadership elections ahead of the graduation, to McMillan Vaye, and he now blames his opponent for the current situation.
He termed the administration’s assurance that all the souvenir packages will arrive and be distributed to recent graduates as a ‘showy’. He doubts vendors will produce appropriate materials with high quality because of the delays.
Dahnkuan’s colleague, Ernest Sandi, said he empathizes with the recent graduates and at the same time blames the leadership of the class for its failed strategy.
Sandi labels the class leadership as complete ‘novice’ to UL campus politics and lacks the pedigree to engage the administration to achieve students’ interest.
“We knew from the onset of this that the guy who they were projecting has not had any good leadership style on the campus,” said the vocal member of the Student Unification Party (SUP). Sandi also accused the UL administration of manipulating the 97th graduating class leadership election.
Giving details about causes of the delays, graduating class president McMillan Vaye admits there are challenges in acquiring the souvenir items. Vaye said one out of four vendors was selected after the bidding process, but the selected vendor had several challenges and couldn’t deliver on time per the deal.
Vaye later told FPA that the UL student affairs department “super imposed” the second vendor on the leadership, something he frowned on but had limited time to oppose the decision.
“When we went that day to select the next vendor, the associate dean and others had already endorsed a vendor, so when I said no they became very vex and they even called the [UL] Vice President,” Vaye said.
He admitted that all of the problems that led to the delays rest on the shoulder of the class leadership but the UL administration also carry the most blame because they control the process.
“The fact that I’m the president of this class and what ever happened wrongly, I think the leadership is cloth with responsibility to take the fall, but we worked in conjunction with student affairs office – and decision at that time was made by student affairs,” he said.
Vaye assured that all the items will be delivered to the graduates despite the delays, confirming that some items have already arrived in the country.
Meanwhile, Associate Dean for Student Affairs Flomo K. Steven said the administration has not made payments to vendors, adding that the contracts to supply the graduates’ souvenir package were pre-finance. Dean Stevens told FrontPageAfrica there were several breakdowns in contract negotiations which created the delays.
He said there were several hiccups in negotiating contract with the vendors until the office of the student affairs intervene.
“We are not worry; we have the money,” he said. “You bring the items before we pay you (the vendors),” Dean Stevens said, promising that the souvenir items will be available before the end of January.
Like other graduates, he blamed the 97th class for the ongoing situation adding that they (class) are responsible because they elected their leadership to steer the affair of the class.
“If they (class leadership) did not play their part, then students should start thinking about how they should elect their officials,” he asserted.