KAMPALA. The Ministry of Education and Sports has asked suspended 23 Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) students to run to court for redress if they feel the administration has violated their constitutional rights.
The ministry undersecretary, Mr Aggrey Kibenge, also said matters to do with boy-girl relationships are regulated by individual institutions to which guidelines the students must have signed to observe on admission.
“Every society has norms to govern the people living there and they agree. I can’t start kissing because I am a married man and I have found my wife in the ministry corridors. Young people should also respect the rights of others,” Mr Kibenge told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday.
“The aggrieved can contest in the courts of law. As a ministry, we don’t go to the level of internal regulations. IUIU is a private university. You need to consult with the National Council for Higher Education for guidelines.
The ministry can only guide on policy matters such as admissions, accredited courses, and where actions against students are dehumanising, or against the Constitution,” Mr Kibenge added.
IUIU suspended 23 students for a year for allegedly indulging in sexual activities on campus, a decision they challenged and await their fate today when the university management sits to determine their appeal.
But IUIU spokesperson Rehema Kantono yesterday said they were still trying to establish if any of the affected students had an examination today before their appeal is heard.
“We want to crosscheck with all students who appealed to be sure they do not have papers today. If they have, the appeal will be handled after the examination period.
The students come from different programmes and they each have to appear before the committee, which is set to sit tomorrow (today). There will be no option but to postpone if there is any student sitting their examinations,” Ms Kantono said yesterday.
The institution’s disciplinary committee alleges that the students were caught coupling in dark corners at the campus, contrary to university regulations.
Served with their sentences, the students were given one week within which to appeal if they felt the punishment was unfair.
The 30-year-old institution operates on strict Islamic doctrines, bans physical touch involving hugging, pecking, and kissing between students of opposite sex.
Earlier, Ms Katono advised that students interested in one another for sexual relationships should apply to the dawwah committee for consent and be allowed to marry officially.
The university disciplinary committee sat on April 13 and recommended that 10 of its students be expelled, six students serve a one-year suspension from the university while seven were given warning letters and asked to write apology letters.
Two of those expelled were final year students but have been allowed to sit examinations pending an appeal hearing.
Ms Kantono said the cases the committee handled ranged from theft, consumption of alcohol and pregnancy outside marriage, which are punishable by discontinuation, according to the university’s policies.
Those cases which attracted warning letters involved students who cooked outside the gazetted places, indecent dressing, and breaking door locks.
“We wish to inform you that the final decision has not been reached until April 26 when the Executive Board (the highest organ of the university) is to handle the appeal cases.
We urge you to be patient with us and understand the circumstances under which such decisions were made, because this is done to maintain the moral values that IUIU stands for,” Ms Kantono said in a statement.