Crime

Makerere Expels Tuition Protest Leader as Military Beefs Up Deployment

Makerere University has expelled Siperia Mollie Saasiraabo, one of the leaders of Tuesday’s protest at the campus.

Saasiraabo, who is the Head of the 85th Guild Female Caucus, was among dozens of students who were arrested by police and the military personnel as protested the 15 percent tuition increment.

The university council in 2018 approved the cumulative increment for five years but students say this has led many of their colleagues to drop out of campus “because the new fees is discriminative for poor people.”

After five years, a student at Makerere will be required to pay 75 percent more.

Saasiraabo was among the arrested students.

“Today on the 22/10/2019 at 1600 hours; I received a letter from the Vice Chancellor Makerere University; Prof. Barnabus Nawangwe suspending me from the institution,” said Saasiraabo.

“According to the letter, I was accused of inciting violence and causing anarchy which disrupts University activities. The other girls I had were equally served with fierce warning letters,” she added.

Saasiraabo had earlier on Sunday posted on Facebook a call to students to challenge the new tuition structure, saying female students were being compelled to sleep around with men to raise tuition fees, a claim we were unable to corroborate.

The protest comes at a time when the police and military are heavily deployed in the central region to combat crime.

Students alleged that security services raided Lumumba Hall on Tuesday night where they picked suspected ring leaders of the protests.

The student leaders yesterday called for a massive demonstration at the campus following the arrest and detention of their colleagues.

Speaking on her expulsion letter, Saasiraabo observed: “Looking at this letter while my legs were coiled in one of the corners of the police cell with the comfort of the stench and cold floor, I pondered on how an innocent girl who can’t harm even a fly could have incited violence in the University she dearly loves.”

She added: “Then I remembered the so many girls that have approached me with tears in their eyes telling me the difficulty they go through to raise tuition; I remembered the various campaigns we have had at the school of Psychology as students trying to raise tuition so our fellow students can do exams with us, the stories I have heard from the boys on how they illegally sneak into examination rooms because they have not cleared tuition; I remembered my friends with whom we started first year but could not continue with us all because of the problem in question; the famous Sonia story stuck in my mind so much that I slid the suspension letter in my back pocket and walked away from the police station feeling much more innocent like never before.”

Makerere University Vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe was yesterday quoted as saying the students should stop de- campaigning the tuition policy since it was approved by the university council after intense deliberations.

He said the protests won’t help the students achieve anything.

Security forces remain heavily deployed at Makerere university

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