USP saga: Aingimea proposes independent organisation for proposed meeting

USP students hold placards with staff members during a protest on Monday. Picture: ATU RASEA

Nauruan President, Lionel Rouwen Aingimea has proposed that an independent organisation such as DFAT (Australia) or MFAT (New Zealand) to organise the scheduled meeting of the University of the South Pacific (USP) full council meeting rather than having any USP staff support.

In a letter to USP’s pro-chancellor and chair of council, Mr Aingimea said this matter (the suspension of its vice-chancellor) must be dealt with at the first possible opportunity.

“For transparency and security reasons, the Zoom meeting should not be compromised by having USP staff supporting this meeting.

“We will organise an independent organisation DFAT (Australia) or MFAT (New Zealand) to initiate the meeting,” Mr Aingimea said in his letter on Friday to Winston Thompson.

Mr Thompson had confirmed the meeting to be held next Friday and said the agenda of the meeting had not been set.

“Some members are overseas and they won’t be able to travel, but they are going to come online, the ones in Fiji, some of them will be online as well and some will come to the venue, wherever that is,” he added.

Mr Thompson said representatives of more than 10-member countries had sanctioned the council to call for the emergency meeting.

Meanwhile, the acting vice-chancellor Derrick Armstrong, in a statement, stated that the university has experienced one of the very turbulent weeks in the university’s history.

“I am very aware that many staff and students have been surprised and shocked as the events of this week have unfolded.

“Emotions are understandably very strong and people have expressed strong opinions on all sides. I would urge all of you to let the council, as the appropriate body of the university, deal with these issues as only they will have full knowledge of all the different facets of this issue.

“It is important that in continuing the work of the university for the benefit of our students and in the service of our member countries, that we have trust in the good judgment of those people charged with this great responsibility.

“For our part, staff of the university have our own responsibilities to ensure that our students’ education and welfare are paramount in everything that we do.

“Our university is responsible at any one time for the education of over 20,000 students from every country of this region and across all our 14 campuses.

“The current wellbeing and the future opportunities for our students are dependent on the quality and continuity of their education while they are in our care,” Mr Armstrong added.

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