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SUVA: Fiji's Daily Post today called for the "truth" about the
University of the South Pacific in the wake of allegations of racial
threats and ethnic cleansing on the Suva-based Laucala campus.
In an editorial, the newspaper also called for cultural understanding at
the regional 12-nation university and an end to race-based student
The calls came as the president of the USP Students Association, Veresi
Bainivualiku, faced a disciplinary hearing on campus today over
allegations that he assaulted an Indo-Fijian student and threatened
staff last Friday.
He was banned from setting foot on the campus until the hearing decided
Bainivualiku, a former broadcaster, has been at the centre of
controversy since taking office at the start of this year over issues
* The student administration's response to F$27,000 missing funds.
* A decision to pull the plug on the campus FM station, Radio Pasifik.
* A campaign against the journalism student newspaper Wansolwara.
* Breach of confidentiality and protests against a university select
committee's recommendation for the next vice-chancellor due to be
appointed for early 2001.
* Allegations of links with rebel George Speight's insurrection.
But Bainivualiku condemned his suspension, saying it was unfair.
He claimed the action take against him was the work of "people who are
trying to destabilise the university, given the current political
Bainivualiku said students and staff who had committed more serious
offences had been allowed onto the campus without being disciplined.
While the Indian Students Association called for Bainivualiku's
resignation, the Fijian Student Association president, Jone Fifita,
assured all students and staff on campus of their safety.
"Is race such an important issue at the University of the South Pacific,
apart from what is being taught about it during academic learning?"
asked the Daily Post.
"If not then well and good! However, if it is true then God help the
future of the region.
"In the last two days, disturbing stories have emerged from this
"In one case we have Indo-Fijian students and lecturers fearing for
their lives and on the other Fijian students assuring them of their
"The Indo-Fijian concerns were fuelled by an incident involving the
student president, Veresi Bainivualiku.
"These students are claiming that the incident was among the many acts
of ethnic cleansing that are happening at the university. They claim
there is more.
"At the same time some students are saying that they are subjects of
victimisation because of their race. Some even claim that victimisation
begins in class and is evident in all phases of the university.
"They claim that two rules apply, one for all other groups and one
specifically for them.
"One must ask whether the university is really being "Fijianised" or
"Indianised", as these two ethnic groups claim?"
The newspaper challenged the very basis of student groupings at the
"For a university that prides itself on its diversity, it is actually
surprising that it encourages ethnicity as a basis for student grouping.
"Education is a whole process ... in the case of USP, which is the elite
academic institution of the region, education should extend to student
"Is it really necessary to have a Fijian student body or an Indian
student body representing only one country? All other regional countries
are represented by only one body."
Title -- 2916 FIJI: Daily Post calls for 'truth' at USP
Date -- 23 August 2000
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- PN, Daily Post, 23/8/00
Copyright -- PN, DP
Status -- Unabridged
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