We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light (truth). – Plato
Dear ladies and gentlemen, or is it lady and gentlemen? I suspect that the secretary does not have voting powers, which only leaves one other female in the committee, or at least in the committee that decided to suspend a number of us in connection to last October’s student unrest in the school. I do not know about the other students, but these are the reasons I was given for my two years suspension. You say that based on the evidence presented and my oral mitigation, the committee found me “guilty of the following offences in accordance with section 6.2 of the Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Discipline of Students of The University”:
i) Writing, publishing and/or distributing of anonymous literature of a malicious or libelous nature including placards.
ii) Any attempt to conceive, design or effect a scheme or strategy of whatever nature whose object or logical consequence is to disrupt the due operation of academic or other programmes of the University.
Consequently, you suspended me from the university for two academic years and warned me not to continue writing inciting and/or defamatory content against the university community lest further action be taken against me. In addition, you went ahead to threaten me with an expulsion should I violate any of the university’s rules and regulations, which, if I understand correctly, includes writing on my blog, right? The evidence you had against me were printed copies of the content of this blog. Now, let me state from the outset that if speaking is wrong, then I am ready for a longer suspension or expulsion. Those are not the kind of things that would have me worried. What worries me has to do with explaining to my brothers why I was suspended from school. Just so you understand why this would worry me, I want you to know that they raised me following my parent’s demise. The far I have come is because of the substantial sacrifices on their part. So going home and telling them that I was suspended because of writing on my blog will not suffice. They went through sleepless nights, toiling day and night so I could be provided for. All I did was read. As you can see, it is they who put in more effort. As such, they will demand to understand the reasons for my suspension inside out. Personally, I still do not understand those reasons.
It is for that reason that I choose to write to you and ask you to please explain it to them in better and simpler language what exactly in the blog is libelous. What exactly qualified as inciting and malicious content? And like I have asked before, does this institution have any intent to foster a free and democratic learning environment? An environment where students can express their idealistic, romanticized versions of how things should be, and the teachers among you can correct those thoughts to put them in line with current reality? And what is the university’s deal with criticism? Some people in authority seem to frown upon it as if their very lives were being threatened. Or is it their jobs? Whichever it is, some things cannot be left to be if we are to reach the levels of academic and technological excellence we aspire for as outlined in our mission and vision; that’s the simple truth and you can take it or leave it. I know that this previous statement in itself should be enough to make at least one member of the committee start thinking of expelling me; I saw how much some of you are annoyed when the truth is spoken fearlessly. Was that not the reason I was accused of rudeness during the hearing? I understand that the proponents of the status quo never wish to see anything change, for better or worse, because they are afraid they may lose out in the new order of things. It is such kind of people who would suspend or expel an outspoken student without a second thought, and in total disregard to due process.
I apologize if I seem to confuse agenda in the paragraph above. I blame it on the fact that despite my wish to have my brothers understand why I was expelled from school, I also have this competing desire to understand why it is so difficult for you to accept that students have rights. I exercised one of those rights and one of you almost went ballistic. He could not believe that I had looked him in the eyes and frankly let him know that I was going to exercise my right to privacy. How can we trust you to uphold our rights when you are not happy when we are exercising them? Another seemed to think that I needed to be highly informed and learned before I can form an opinion. Perhaps he would not mind to go check up the meaning of ‘opinion’, because, in my opinion, he needs an understanding of the term which is based on fact and not his own opinion. Did I lose you there? I am talking to the gentleman who said he could not see the difference between “I am not ready to….” and “I will not….” That was shocking considering that you, sir, have a master’s degree, or so I heard; did you honestly not learn that anywhere within the system you went through? Is that the same system of learning you are so desperately working to maintain? And are you so intent on ensuring its perpetuity that you would be willing to ruin, or postpone, the dreams of some innocent students whose only wish is to graduate and have the same chances at life as you? But I hear that there are people who do not like competition, who do anything to weed it out before it even has a chance to survive. Maybe this is because to compete effectively, one has to keep improving, keep changing. We all know that change is the antithesis of the status quo; it is either one or the other. Ironically, those suspended are not even the real threat, if any student can be regarded as a threat. The real threat lies elsewhere, but when I tried to tell you where that is, you wouldn’t listen. You were too busy trying to prove me guilty.
Interestingly, despite all your concerted efforts to ascertain my guilt, here we are again – with me still protesting my innocence and you not having satisfactorily pointed out how and why I am guilty. You say that this blog is my attempt to disrupt the operations of the university, but do you honestly believe that yourselves? Which specific content here would make anyone stop working or fail to attend class? Will you please explain the logic used to arrive at that conclusion to my brothers because I surely cannot? Don’t hold my shortcomings in that respect against me, that’s why I came to university and pay my school fees – to be taught things I do not know. The one thing I would really like to know right now is: Who did I cross and how did I wrong them? I am ready to go home for my two years, even more, but before that I need to know why I had to be suspended. I don’t want to tell anyone who’ll mind to ask that I do not exactly know why I was suspended. Neither do I want to take home the thought that some persons in authority are vindictive towards the students. These are some of the issues I wish you would take time to make me and my brothers understand. In the meantime, I will be packing, just in case the vice-chancellor decides to uphold your decision, something I was told is a near certainty.