BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE authorized backpack checks at the two main gates in front of the Solomon Islands National University, Kukum Campus in Honiara have now become a grave concern for the majority of students studying at the Campus.
The Solomon Islands National University (SINU) students reacted with anger whether the actions undertaken by the on-duty security officers manning the gate are legitimate – especially the daily check of student bags.
“I strongly believe that students should not have their private property searched. Just because a school bag is brought to school, it doesn’t make it school property.
“It’s quite frustrating to see security officers invading students’ privacy by unzipping and checking students’ bags and personal belongings before they can enter the University compound.
“The search should not be regular, it must have a credible cause but not a search warrant, and you cannot just base it on a rumor. If you do it based on a rumor then you first need to ask everyone if that student does or doesn’t have anything,” a student critic told Sunday Isles.
The student revealed that now students want more clarifications from the SINU administration and the security company that is particularly to explain the motives behind the bag checks since it has caused a lot of confusion among the students and residents residing at the Kukum campus area.
“The authorized searching of students and their possessions had occurred from the period of last year until now, and students are losing their patience and want credible answers now.”
SINU Lecturer, James Awakari has hit back at the concerned students who questioned the legitimacy of the authorized searching and confiscating of students and their possessions.
“SINU administration has authorized security officers to regularly conduct searches of students that may be in possessions for weapons, drugs, alcohol, cigarette and betel nut.
“The strict measures are authorized by the administration to scale down on an increase sales of betel nut and cigarette products by students to other students within the University compound.
“SINU has given the security officers of Live and Property Security Services (LPSS) additional disciplinary powers to deal with disobedient students. Therefore, on-duty security officers are allowed to apply reasonable force when conducting these searches.
“Several students are engaging in the selling of prohibited items and products within the Campus, and the security firm is working under the SINU’s mandate to stop such activities to be entertained at the Campus,” James told Sunday Isles.
LPSS Supervisor, Christopher Sapivaka also defended their actions by condemning the critics.
“We are simply doing our job that is defined under our signed contract agreement with SINU.
“Our mandated role and responsibility is to do daily bag checks on all students to ensure they upheld and abide by the new rule and keep the environment clean for their learning.
He added that these gate checks are not only for students who have engaged in selling betel nut and smoke but also for the public at large to ensure bags are clear from weaponry such as knives or possessing of alcohol products when entering school campus.
“I am appealing to all our good students to work together with us and SINU management to make Kukum Campus a problem-free zone for everyone including students and the general public,” the LPSS Supervisor clarified.