PESHAWAR: In a first, the century-old Edwardes College Peshawar was forced shut for an indefinite period after students took to the streets to demand the removal of the college principal on Tuesday.
Demonstrations erupted following the sacking of four senior faculty members late Monday night. In reaction, a number of other teachers also announced boycott of classes in support of their colleagues.
On Tuesday, protesters blocked Sher Shah Suri Road, suspending all traffic plying on the main route. Students walked towards the Governor House, but were stopped by security forces. The blockade forced many to walk additional miles towards their destinations. The sacked faculty members told journalists they were suspended for unidentified reasons and without having been served a show-cause notice. They accused the principal of not only jeopardising their career, but also risking the future of students.
Principal Dr Titus Presler, however, told The Express Tribune those suspended were served show-cause notices for “their role in certain events that have occurred at the college.”
“We have initiated disciplinary action against four faculty members which does not presume what the outcome of the proceedings will be. One faculty member among those suspended has already responded in a very helpful way and discussions are ongoing,” he said, adding another accused faculty member “incited students to protest, and this is not an appropitiate response.”
Majority of the faculty members want a peaceful environment for studies, he stated. “We hope the college will soon return to its routine.” Presler did not mention, however, exactly how soon. The college is expected to be in recess from the end of this week till January 2 for Christmas holidays.
Some faculty members expressed concern over the protests and said students should not be involved in resolving administrative disputes concerning teachers. “It has never happened in the history of the college. I have never seen my students protest on the streets. This is really sad,” said a faculty member, requesting anonymity. “Disputes should be resolved within the college, not on the streets.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2013.