A week ago, after the death of a Kenyatta University student at the hands of a rogue police officer, a friend of mine wrote an article paying homage to the late comrade but also castigated KUSA, the student’s organization. Within minutes, via Facebook, a KUSA official was already on his neck with insults and threats. The funny thing is that my friend only mentioned KUSA in one sentence of the article. SONU experienced an ugly clash of personalities last year due to power struggle and Moi University’s MUSO is just a moribund organization.
Rattling snakes, yes snakes, is a dangerous game and many people have learned that the hard way including the likes of Robert Alai. But sometimes a snake just has to be hit on the head instead of being rattled, to avoid future injury. KUSA, SONU and even MUSO all get all sorts of complaints from students, but nothing really changes in campus unless it’s destined to change.
Many universities will, without regret, deny a student the opportunity to graduate because of a 10 shilling tuition. Picture the student really crying. The deadline for application for graduation has passed, she wasn’t aware she only had a ten shilling balance and it’s too late to fix it.
Elsewhere in the same institution, a student entertainment secretary goes to seek fifty thousand shillings from the administration to organize an event worth twenty thousand shillings and without question, he is given the money. University administration can’t be blamed for that. It’s the components such as the finance department and the student body that work in cohorts. It isn’t possible for the administration to monitor everything with a keen eye, therefore a change in strategy needs to be implemented.
Why the greed? One might ask. In our society the biggest motivator is money or power.. As students, we desire to be successful, powerful or recognized. Nothing much that we ever do is geared towards changing society even when given a platform to do so. Maybe we don’t care or maybe it’s fear, because the hero always dies in most cases.
Most student leaders are in it for the money and privileges. Just the campaigning for student leadership posts, opens deep pockets and opportunities to mingle with the political class. Some are certain of defeat in the final election but at least guaranteed of a fat pocket for the next ten months or so because of the heavy funding. Through campaigns, popularity is also gained. Young people love popularity.
The truth is; student leadership is structured to under perform. Strikes and demonstrations wouldn’t happen if student leaders really worked well with administrations. Many allowances and various unmonitored opportunities to embezzle funds create a structure of fill the sack rather than a structure of work. A student leader will aim to get out of office as rich as possible instead of working. These are our future leaders, yet we are surprised when our MP’s brazenly ask for higher pay barely 100 days after they are elected.
In my opinion, the money motivation should be done away with. No allowances and no pay. Instead, administration should put in place leader ratings and rewards. If a leader performs well in his role, he should be guaranteed a job in a good corporate institution after graduation. In addition, the power to impeach should be given to students. If majority of students feel that a certain student leader is underperforming, they can vote them out. Maybe through that, things might change.