Just like any other governments, the students’ guild has three arms; the legislative (Guild Representative Council – GRC), the executive (guild cabinet) and the judiciary (the guild tribunal). Unlike the first two, the guild tribunal enjoys a great degree of obscurity and distinction in the eyes of students. Campus Bee caught up with fourth year Law student Hussein Dawood, the chairman of the guild tribunal and here are the excerpts;
QN: What is the guild tribunal? Briefly tell us about it’s composition and how it’s set up.
ANS: The guild tribunal is an independent organ of the guild government which exercises quasi-judicial powers.
It is made up of 5 students who are elected by an existing Guild Representative Council (GRC) during its second session, and the guild Legal Advisor as an ex official member.
It has a wide range of powers and responsibilities. It decides constitutional petitions brought before it alleging that an organ of the guild has failed to act as required by the Guild Constitution and is an appellate body for all student disciplinary committees at hall, school and college level. The tribunal also acts as a disciplinary committee for the Guild and an investigative arm of the GRC.
QN: Moving on, in the period that the tribunal has been functioning this year, have you received any petitions or decided on any issues? If yes, which ones?
ANS: No, the tribunal is yet to receive its first petition or any other action for that matter. We believe that this is partly due to the limited awareness students have of its existence and mandate, rather than an absence of disputes or other issues to resolve.
In the time it has been operational, the current Tribunal has created and tried to disseminate detailed Rules of Procedure (The Makerere Guild Tribunal Rules, 2018) intended to guide all persons that may wish to appear before it as petitioners or otherwise. It is also in the process of securing a permanent office to make it easier for students to access. At the moment it meets at select, improvised places when necessary.
So while the tribunal is yet to be engaged, we hope to lay a firm foundation to make that engagement possible and a norm for future times.
QN: In recent times, there’s been a wave of suspensions by the vice chancellor with many of them alleging that they were denied a fair hearing. Are cases of students’ indiscipline also in your jurisdiction?
ANS: Yes, the tribunal has the power to conduct disciplinary proceedings against any member of the Guild, but these are limited to instances of breach of the Guild Constitution rather than breach of the University Students’ Regulations. Breach of the latter primarily falls within the jurisdiction of the University Students Disciplinary Committee.
QN: Who takes the day in an instance where a student breaches both the guild constitution and the university student’s regulations?
ANS: Where there is an overlap of both instruments, both the guild tribunal and the University’s Students Disciplinary Committee (and Hall Disciplinary Committees under Regulation 6 (4) of the Regulations) will have jurisdiction, except that once a student is suspended or expelled by the university, the tribunal’s jurisdiction may abate because that student ceases to be a full member of the Guild for the period of suspension or expulsion. The Regulations certainly take precedence in case of an inconsistency, but a mere overlap of jurisdiction is not an inconsistency in itself.
QN: So can the tribunal summon students that it believes to have breached rules and initiate proceedings on its own or you have to wait for someone to bring forward a complaint?
ANS: Both avenues are legally available. The guild tribunal can initiate disciplinary proceedings against any member of the guild on its own and summon such persons and other witnesses to appear before it. It may also initiate disciplinary proceedings upon the lodging of a complaint by any member of the Guild.
All other actions that are not disciplinary proceedings have to be commenced by the interested persons, not by the Tribunal of its own accord.
QN: There are so many students’ associations and clubs. What is the tribunal’s input in matters regarding their operations?
ANS: The tribunal has the power to settle disputes between members of such associations that are affiliated to the guild. On a related note, it also acts as an arbitration and mediation forum where students may settle their disputes.
QN: Which students in the university constitute the tribunal?
ANS: The members of the guild tribunal include myself, the Chairperson – Gulam Hussein Dawood LL.B IV (email@example.com) also accessible on +256755942943 and Derrick Kunyiga Kizito (LL.B IV), Nobert Nyakuni (LL.B III), Brian Innocent Okeng (BBA II) and Joanita Lwensisi (LL.B IV).
QN: Any last words to the students out there?
ANS: The tribunal should be used as a civil, just and organized mechanism to resolve conflict within the students-guild circle.
Our community as students will be elevated if that usage is adopted as opposed to other uncivil ways of conflict resolution.
The Guild Tribunal is an essential wheel in the students’ guild system.