The decision by the authorities at the University of Ghana to turn the Commonwealth Hall into a mixed-gender hall of residence has sparked more controversy than it deserves. Of course, the failure of the university to clearly articulate why it is taking such a decision has not helped.

It seems, though, that it has everything to do with the recent conduct of some boisterous students of the hall (known as vandals), who are said to have brought the name of the university into disrepute by allegedly heckling former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan – who also happens to the Chancellor of the University.

In the same vein, those kicking against the move have not proffered any solid basis for their opposition. I have heard a past student of the hall say that bringing females into Commonwealth would break a certain “tradition”. Another former student of the hall claims that “without Commonwealth Hall there is no University of Ghana” and therefore bringing in the females is tantamount to destroying the hall – and by extension, the university.

It’s understandable that in the absence of sound reasoning, those who don’t want girls (and women) in Commonwealth Hall are clinging to false claims. But they are fighting a battle they can’t win.

Converting Commonwealth Hall into a mixed gender hall will happen – whether the old and current vandals like it or not.

Students will soon take a vacation and by the time they return to campus, the Commonwealth Hall they know now will be an historical relic. If that is how the university authorities want it – for whatever reason – so be it.

It’s the prerogative of the university to decide who should stay in which hall. In fact, the university authorities can decide to use the structure that makes up the Commonwealth Hall for anything they like. They can decide to turn it into a public toilet or a zoo and it would be perfectly within their rights to do so.

Instead of wasting their time and energies fighting a battle they can’t win, the students should be agitating against the poor state of infrastructure at the university.

Any university where there are three hundred or more students crammed into one lecture hall is a sick university. That’s what the University of Ghana is. A university where students hardly write essays and most lecturers are forced to restrict assessments to multiple choice questions is not worth its name. And that’s the sad state of the University of Ghana. Any university where 12 or more students are forced to sleep in rooms that should accommodate just one or two is nothing better than a refugee camp.

Students who care about their future should be making a lot of noise, staging demonstrations and creating hell for the university authorities and the government to provide the amenities for them to acquire knowledge and skills to put them in good stead to compete with their counterparts from Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. They shouldn’t be wasting precious time and energy grieving over anything like the loss of the tradition the vandals from Commonwealth Hall are best known for – boisterous misconduct and hymns of profanity.


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