A person died. People felt the pain of losing a life. They rioted. Lectures were suspended and the aforementioned persons asked to vacate campus premises. And so it was that hurriedly students packed what little they could and left the campus with no backward glance. Because the request was no mere polite request, it was backed by a force that any a Kenyan rioter reckons with, GSU and everything that that name stands for. Everything that happened that day was to be the talk of many students for the days that followed. But even the most interesting stories turn stale beyond a certain number of retell. So the moment we were given something else to talk about we jumped on it like a lion on a limp gazelle. This came in the form of some 500/- we were supposed to pay so as to be reregistered back to our courses of study. It turned out that this was a topic that raised more questions than answers.
One of the questions was how was it that the senate arrived at the value? The actual damage was without a shadow of doubt not equivalent to the amount charged. No one could come up with a good enough explanation to justify it. At times like this, we turn to the one place we can easily access answers, where questions are answered to the best knowledge of the one being asked without counter-questions, our student organization. Granted at times they are in the dark like the rest of us, when they have information they are less tightfisted with it. Therefore, upon resuming school scores upon scores of students were hounding the DeKUTSO leaders for all type of information. Not the least important was why we had to pay that amount and not something much less. The answers that came from representatives of DeKUTSO, who spoke in an unofficial capacity, were quite curious.
Allegedly, no student representative was allowed in the seating during which the senate settled on that figure. Most universities have in their statutes a provision that at least one student representative, almost always the chairperson, will be allowed to sit in the senate meetings. Similarly, here in Kimathi that’s how it has always been, with the exception of the senate meetings to discuss the examination results; the chairperson is not allowed attendance for the obvious reason that he is also one of the students whose results are being discussed. Since the chairperson was away taking care of family matters, this meant either the vice-chairperson or secretary general should have been allowed to attend that seating acting on behalf of the chairperson. Despite the precedence, none of the DeKUTSO leaders was let to attend this particular meeting. But statutes are legal documents, and all law is full of exceptions; in legal circles an ‘exception to the exception of an exception’ is not a rarity. Probably, there is an exception in the statutes limiting this right of representation of students during senate meetings.
The DEKUTSO chairperson was diligent enough to follow up upon returning to school to find out how that value was set. Perhaps he anticipated all the students’ questions and saw fit to be prepared beforehand. His account of the reasons he was given as to why the amount came to 500/- was amusing to say the least. Apparently, by rioting we ruined the public image of the university. Consequently, the university has to spend a great deal of money on advertisements and publicity so as to restore its previous glory. It was somehow insulting to listen to that attempt at accounting for how the money was going to be spent – an insult to the intellect. Not only was it an incomplete account but also did not sound well thought out. Over 2.5m for repairs, publicity and the miscellaneous expenses? Without his saying so, one got a feeling that he was himself not fully convinced but had had to accept the explanation nevertheless.
Anyway, let’s quit beating a dead horse here, we already paid. A question that’s more pertinent is what is the need of having privileges when they can be so easily taken away? When a student leader can be asked to walk out of the senate meeting without any prior notice? Because that is what is purported to have happened to the secretary general and vice-chairperson when they were representing the chairman. Mind you, these are people who are as much a member of the senate as any other. If indeed things happened this way, one might ask if the rest of the senate couldn’t have been courteous enough to at least write them beforehand, or telk them in the previous seating not to attend that day? Regardless of how good the reason, it seems uncouth to let someone come for a meeting then ask them to leave having known all along they were not to sit in the meeting. But good manners, politeness and propriety are not a priority in some offices around campus. Just the other day a secretary asked a student in a not-so-polite manner, “Sasa utafunza dean kufanya kazi wewe mwanafunzi?” The sensitive nature of the case at hand called for a little more consideration on her part, but what did she care? She probably has a million more things of greater importance than any one single student in Kimathi. Makes one wonder why workers find it hard to be courteous. But then I hear students are not the easiest lot to deal with, and that may be all the reason there is for everything – from the senate asking the student representatives to leave its meeting all the way down to a secretary dismissing the plight of a student.



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