Copperbelt University Academic Union president Dr Derrick Ntalasha says they do not support the riotous behaviour but has advised government to understand why students riot.

And Dr Ntalasha has said Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo is running away from problems facing the Copperbelt University (CBU) by closing down the institution.

Reacting to the government’s indefinite closure of CBU, Friday, Dr Ntalasha Prof Luo should address the problems facing the learning institution without using emotions.

“It needs to be understood that we don’t support riotous behaviour of any kind as a union. But we are saying that if there is a riot, it’s important to understand why the riot is taking place. And when you understand the grievances of the students, that’s when you can make decisions and see how we can address the issue. Now we know the students have been calling on management to deal with the issues of continuous assessment. That is a senate issue and [for] a senate issue, the senate has to deal with that issue,” Dr Ntalasha said. “So before even a closure can be done, those are some of the procedures provided for that you need to go through a dialogue process. And the senate itself has got the power to look at the operations, whether they can continue going on or not. So to have just a minister to announce that the closure has taken place even before senate meets, you can see a lot of discrepancies there.”

He said closing the institution was a sign of failure to address the problems confronting the CBU.

“So we want to urge the minister to really not run away from the problem by closing the institution before understanding why the problem exists in these institutions. And as the union, what we want to advise is that before a drastic measure like that one is taken, it’s important to address the problem. Closing the institution is just a sign of failing to address the problem, and that’s not how we solve problems by running away from them,” Dr Ntalasha said.

He further said the closure would negatively affect the students’ calendar and the standing of the university.

“The calendar itself is distorted and it’s a cost really for an institution to close. So first of all, the students themselves will be disturbed in that they will not have the normal calendar which they are supposed to have followed to run through. There are exams which should have started and they got disturbed. And the overall outlook of the institution is affected by closures like this one,” said Dr Ntalasha. “So we don’t support closures, we would want a situation to be dealt with so that the integrity of the institution remains very high. Closing it will just negatively affect the whole standing of the institution. We urge the minister and the senate of the university to quickly look at how to address the problem before the announcement of closure because if they do not sort out the problem, [it] will manifest when the students come back. So it should be addressed as objectively as [possible], not using emotions.”