ONE of the methods that we use in university when teaching is to give our students a scenario and have them try and solve the problem based on what they have learnt.
So, for a bit of fun, let’s try it here. Pretend you are a student and below is an assignment question.
There is a university and it is facing some difficulties. The campus has been having water supply problems – namely water is not reaching the various residential colleges.
There are 13 colleges and their water supply has been erratic. When there is a supply, the water is oftentimes dirty.
This has led to great inconvenience and also to problems of hygiene.
Five of those colleges had no water at all for four to five weeks.
Water has to be brought by lorries into the colleges. The students can see these water trucks being filled just at the entrance of the campus, which makes them wonder why there is no water deeper in the campus where their colleges are. The water company claims that this is because of the poor pipes within campus.
Naturally, the students are very upset. They approach the university with their complaints and are told that the problem is due to the water company and that the university is working on it.
After weeks of this situation continuing, they decide to take matters into their own hands by organising three separate actions.
The elected student council arrange a forum to discuss what can be done about their water woes.
They then organise a peaceful demonstration where at the end of it they hand a memorandum to the elected Member of Parliament in that constituency. And finally they put together a donation drive amongst the public where the money collected will be used to buy bottled water for the students living in dry colleges.
Place yourself in the shoes of the university administration.
Choose one from the following possible actions and explain why you chose that particular action.
a. You do nothing.
b. You engage with the students (through their elected council) explaining exactly what the university is doing and at what stage your attempts at rectifying the situation are. You are as open as possible, offering evidence as to what you think is the cause of the problems.
c. You take disciplinary action against 13 students. Some are the organisers of the three events (that is to say they are members of the elected student council whose job it is to watch out for student welfare) and others are students who merely attended said functions.
You state that the students did not get the university’s permission to organise such things as required by the university rules.
You also point out that a loud hailer was used during one or more of these events and this was again done without the university’s permission. And for good measure, you point out that the actions of the students had tarnished the good name of the university.
Postscript: The above scenario is not made up but is based on a real situation happening currently. Guess which measure the university chose?
Azmi Sharom is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own. The STAR Columnist Brave New World June 24, 2015