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Why University Students Love Destroying Property


Within a few weeks, students in at least four of our seven public uni versities have, in varying degrees, demonstrated that they do not care about other means of resolving conflict except violence.
So far, students at the University of Nairobi, Egerton , and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology have demonstrated that they have a warped understanding of reality. The latest and, indeed, shocking is Kenyatta University students' riots. The destruction left behind in the wake of the Kenyatta University riots beats them all: burning of a hostel, a students' centre, a multipurpose hall and vandalising of a laboratory.
What may not be acceptable are the reasons they posit for destruction of property. It is becoming more and more obvious that our students seem to find something heroic in wanton destruction. And this is a tragedy.
Without absolving the university administrations from blame for lack of foresight, inability to instill a sense of responsibility, communication flaws and, obviously, undemocratic practices, I want to say that a certain minimum sense of restraint is expected from university students. Univer sity students are being trained to be thinkers.
As thinkers, they are expected to engage university administration in dialogue and, when dialogue fails, strategise to drive their point home without jeopardising their future. What logic would drive one to burn a hostel and vandalise a laboratory which he or she hopes to use after calm has returned? These suicidal instincts can only be a product of an imprudent mind.
Other reasons not withstanding, the latest destruction at Kenyatta University, we are told, is as a result of students demanding to be registered for examinations at the last minute. It may be unfair for university administrators to fail to understand the strain that students go through in view of our economic conditions. Parents are struggling to pay fees; sometimes they only manage to complete payment when the semester is ending.
While it is understandable that universities all over the world operate by adhering to a strict calendar, surely rules are not cast in stone. Bending a rule for a better cause wouldn't cost us much. Negotiation and adjustment of the deadline should never have been too painful to the administration, especially in view of the struggling parent.
Egara Kabaji, USA.