KNUST crisis—a case of tyranny or poor co-creation?

Co-creation is a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.[1]Co-creation brings a blend of ideas from direct customers or viewers (who are not the direct users of the product), which in turn creates new ideas to the organization –Wikipedia.

 Last Monday, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) was closed down, following a students’ demonstration that turned violent leading to the destruction of public and private property. Consequently, national students have had to leave campus for their homes while international students remained. Communication from KNUST authorities emphasised the closure was indefinite. It is not known, when the university would be re-opened.

Contentions:

According to the students, the demonstration was in protest of the “tyrannical” leadership style of the university management led by Vice-chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso. They contend that he would not let them have a say in the affairs of the university. They also accused the university authorities of approving the use of force and violence against them by the university security guards.

The students also claim the VC, has through dictatorial tendencies denigrated the students leadership structures by taking away leadership positions from seniors and handing the positions over to juniors, in response to earlier protests by students over the decision to turn male only halls of residence into mixed (male and female) halls.

Co-creation:

From the accounts gathered so far, it appears the university authorities operated a “take it or leave it” approach to the implementation of the mixed halls policy. They have in turn accused some members of its alumni of being behind the strong opposition to the policy by the students. The vocal alumni have leveled counter accusations consistent with the positions of the students’ body. The battle lines look sharp and deep.

Could the alternative approach of co-creation have helped in managing the implementation of the policy with little or no backlash? After all members of the alumni are supposed to be the brand ambassadors of the university and can never be excluded in the development and implementation of such policies as “mixing” halls that trigger emotive feelings and nothing else. Obviously pushing the mixed halls policy through amid protests was hard to take. Imposing juniors on seniors in the leadership of the affected halls is even more difficult to take.

Violence:

There is no justification whatsoever for the “peaceful” demonstration to turn violent. The students had no reason whatsoever to even contemplate the destruction of property, which they unfortunately did and foolishly acted upon. As part of the process to re-open the university, thorough investigations must be conducted with the help of technology to bring all culprits to book.

The students must be made to pay the fair and true costs of the properties they have destroyed to serve as a deterrent to the next generation of students. They must also be made to sign bonds to be of good behaviour with specific emphasis on “never to destroy property”. The security guards who took to brutalising the students must also be fished out and punished, even if they were obeying orders.

Stakeholder engagement:

University authorities in Ghana must learn to deepen stakeholder engagements and in doing that credit students with some intelligence. The tools of co-creation would be very useful as moves are being made to implement similar mixed halls of residence policies in other public universities in Ghana.

I do not like the taste of the politics of calls for the removal of the VC when no investigations have been conducted to find him guilty of any offence yet. The conspiracy theory about escalating the crisis to pave way for his removal is dirty. I am concerned about the future of our students and the image of our universities. Did the foreign students pay for the indefinite closure of the university? Co-creation is the way to go!

For The Records 

1. The decision to convert the halls to mixed halls was not the unilateral decision of the Vice Chancellor.
2. The University Council, the highest decision making body of the University approved the arrangement.
3. The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary education, Hon Professor Yankah, described that decision as brilliant and should be followed by other public universities.
4. The Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, did not disapprove of the decision.
On what basis are we therefore demanding that the Vice Chancellor be removed?
I want to be fair.

 

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