The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has been in the news for some time now.
It all started when a court ordered that all single-sexed halls be turned to mixed-sexed halls - a development which sparked much controversy and protests.
Justice Samuel Obeng Diawuo, who presided over the case explained that the applications came after the University had allocated accommodation to students who had admissions hence the case cannot be considered.
Thankfully, YEN.com.gh has had a close-source information on experiences that any could have as a fresh student of KNUST.
Below is the full story:
My arrival at the university had been preceded by months of anxiety, prayer and preparation. On my first day, however, all that was left of the plethora of emotions was an eclectic mixture of anxiety, fear, and an increasingly bristling sense of adventure - from here on I knew I was venturing into uncharted waters much bigger than those I had previously crossed. An awareness that grew with every passing second.
My fears emanated not from the fact, the very embarrassing but true fact, that my culinary skills did not go beyond boiling and frying.
It was fueled more by a foreboding statement made by a bank teller to whom I had gone to pay my fees -- there was no more accommodation in the halls for first-year students. That had been the case for male inmates almost a week before school had re-opened in the hall to which I had been assigned.
And even as I sat in the car of a family friend for the five-hour journey, echoes of that ominous warning kept playing on in my mind.
Nevertheless, being the unwavering optimistic that he was, my father gave the reassurance that "the school wouldn't give admission to students unless it had made adequate provisions for their accommodation."
And those were words he would come to regret barely twenty-four hours after they had been uttered. So we arrived one hundred and thirty miles away from home (at least that was what google said) with heavy luggage, hopeful hearts and wondering minds.
Having woken up at an ungodly hour in order to reach early, we disembarked from the vehicle with which we traveled, stepped out into the cold morning to the sound of birds flitting back and forth among the giant trees that greeted a visitor at every turn.
A beautiful morning. And the beginning of the day when it all went wrong. We went to the admissions building from where we were directed to the Dean of Students' office by virtue of me not getting a room in the hall to which I was assigned. Poor me.
So off to the Dean's office we trotted, braving the steep hills and slopes on which the university stood.
The walk to the office turned out to belong, uneventful and the most straining I had had in a long while. Yet, being relatively quiet, it afforded me the luxury of allowing my mind to wander. And as though on cue, the first thought that slipped into my consciousness was a concern as to the kind of accommodation I would receive.
Moreover, this was especially important to me since all the male rooms in my hall had been reported to have been paid for in full for over two days before I paid my fees. My dad, however, did not seem to share the same sentiment and had plastered his signature "I-told-you-so" look on his face. If only he had known that the look would not survive into the next hour.
A wandering mind soon became a disoriented one as I realized that we had walked for over ten minutes without seeming to reach our destination.
So we had to ask for directions to the office of the dean, one which we found in under three minutes. And what we found was the jaw-dropping scene of a crowd in the hundreds with disoriented and gaunt-looking faces that mirrored one another only in the extent of anger and despair that was plastered on them.
In a matter of minutes, my dad would be a full-fledged soldier in this army of the doomed and miserable.
In the mass of confused individuals, only an enlightened few knew which way to go. And from them, we took the direction that led us into the office of the Dean of students.
The reception of the office, which could barely seat ten people on a normal day, was filled with a crowd that would easily reach fifty people.
All of whom were shuffling, pushing and almost practically fighting each other for a piece of paper no wider than 5 inches.
The sheet itself boasted little of its significance by way of an appearance in that its only purpose, being a form of sorts, was to collect the name, identification number and other miscellaneous details of the student.
Yet it would be key in deciding the accommodation of more than a thousand students for the next academic year.
That explained, if not justified, the extent to which matured parents turned on one another in their violent attempt to get it. They had no other option - the tune had been struck and all they could do was to dance to the melody.
As the proverb goes, they who dance are thought mad by those who do not hear the music.
I stood rooted to a spot among the sweat-soaked and clammy mass of bodies. Entranced and dumbstruck by the scene that played before my eyes of fifty-something-year-olds pushing and shuffling their way to the front with deathly intent in their eyes and an utter lack of consideration for anyone else, the music was becoming increasingly audible.
I could not help but wonder if the university's officials ever considered that this would be the repercussions of their actions. Or inactions. Or maybe, just maybe, they cared more for the melody than for they did for the dance.
I dare say inaction because most, if not all of us, had no idea whatsoever and hence were ill-prepared for the situation that befell us. And even in the disgruntled, dis-united and the self-serving crowd, there was one consensus -- we should have been informed, if not forewarned. This, for many, was perhaps the primary reason for the outbreak of confusion at the Dean's office that day.
For most of the parents of the "unaccommodated" students, though not mine, made no provisions for a potential increase in the amount they were expected to pay for accommodation.
So hearing that the amount would be increased from nine hundred and fifty-five cedis to amounts ranging from a thousand and two hundred to two thousand four hundred cedis was rather too disorientating.
Let me clarify, we the "unaccommodated" (as I will be referring to students who did not get rooms in the halls to which they had been assigned) had to book hostels on the school's online portal. And naturally, the cheapest rooms - costing one thousand cedis, were booked full in a matter of hours. That left the rooms worth a thousand and two hundred, one of which I was fortunate to have had.
So there and then, a pattern had been set where every few hours would see the price of accommodation rising in the hundreds.
It is best described as a rat race where the implications of defeat were so dire that unto those it dawned, it had etched the ugly marks of agitation on their faces.
The intensity of that agitation increased as you approached the back of the queue that led into the office where we were to submit the forms. And so strong was the propensity for its infection that not even the smartly dressed security personnel in charge of the door was spared from its depressing hold.
As parents and prospective students pushed, cursed and bellowed their hearts out to get through the door, it was easy to tell that this was the last place she wanted to be.
Especially when she had to literally push against the door from the inside to prevent 'illegal' entry by anxious and impatient parents. Yes, it was that serious.
So patiently I waited, though my patience did not span the whole length of time I had spent waiting until it was my turn to enter through the door where many had entered into and yet so few had exited.
In the very instant I entered, the reason why so few had left towered ever so dauntingly before me -- there was yet another queue here. In retrospect, I realize it was one of the most testing days of my life (if you count out the day I was wrongfully apprehended for a public lynching), especially in light of my short-tempered tendencies.
After about an hour and a half of torturous waiting, I completed my booking process. All I had to do next was to visit the bank and pay the prescribed amount. Or so I thought. After sitting in yet another gruesome queue at the bank, I reached the teller's cubicle ready to put an end to my suffering, only to be told that my booking process was flawed.
In simpler terms, she meant to say that though I had the document to prove that I had indeed completed the process, my name did not appear on the system. That being said I had to start the process over.
Marching off angrily back to the dean's office, I lodged my complaints with the assistants who were responsible for the booking process. And there I met a lady who had experienced the very same problem. If I did not have strong enough evidence to argue the incompetence of whatsoever officials responsible for the process - I now did.
Things had to change. That was made blatantly clear to me as I completed what should have to be a rather simple process after over eight hours of hellish torture.
Writer: Kojo Yorke
Writer's e-mail: email@example.com
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