Inside the RVIST Student Strike: What Sparked the Protests?

Nakuru, Kenya – June 9, 2024

The Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST) Nakuru Main Campus has been closed indefinitely following violent student protests that erupted on Thursday night and continued into Friday morning. The unrest was sparked by grievances over inadequate facilities and the administration’s refusal to approve the student budget, leading to the cancellation of key student events.

In a notice issued by the RVIST Students’ Union, students expressed their frustration over the lack of classrooms, insufficient seating, and the unexplained closure of the library. They also highlighted the administration’s refusal to approve the student budget, which resulted in the cancellation of the much-anticipated fresher’s night, cultural week, and interdepartmental games. The union urged all students to join the demonstration on Friday, June 7.

The protests escalated as students barricaded the Eldoret-Nakuru Highway at Ngata Bridge, disrupting traffic and clashing with police. The police resorted to using tear gas to disperse the protesters, who had blocked the highway with burning tires.

In response to the escalating situation, RVIST Principal Sammy Chemoiwa issued a memo ordering the indefinite suspension of all college programs. “It is apparent that normal classes cannot be conducted due to the unconducive environment,” Chemoiwa stated. He ordered all students to vacate the campus by 12:30 PM on Friday and declared the college off-limits to students until further notice.

The principal’s memo, addressed to all staff and students and copied to various administrative officers, emphasized the urgency of the evacuation due to safety concerns for the school community and property. The administration pledged to inform students about the resumption of classes in due course.

Reports of recent protests by RVIST students highlight potential issues at the college. Students allege overcrowded classrooms and a lack of sufficient seating, which they claim has been exacerbated by a supposed rise in student enrollment, including internship participants. Additionally, there are concerns, unverified at this time, regarding the management of student funds. Students allege that the administration might be withholding the Students’ Union budget.

Business activities in Nakuru were disrupted as the protests spilled over into the town’s business center, leading to clashes between students and police. The situation remains tense as students await further communication from the administration regarding the reopening of the campus.


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