Last week on Friday, Nov 2, the UCU students’ community elected Bruce Mugisha as their new guild president. The third-year student of Civil and Environmental Engineering garnered 1000 votes, beating his closet rival Joshua Wanambwa with a margin of 124 votes, having scored 876 votes FRANCIS EMUKULE interviewed him.
Who are you?
I am a 22 year-old who comes from a humble family of four. I am the fourth among my siblings. My mother, Molly Mugisha, is an educationist in western Uganda and my father, Godfrey Mugisha is a farmer.
I attended Paragon Boarding Primary School in Shema District where I was head prefect and debate prefect. I later joined Ntare School in Mbarara for both O-level and A-level. There, I was part of the Patriotism Club and president of the Agricultural Club before joining UCU in 2016.
What motivated you to join the Guild race?
When I joined Honours College at UCU three years ago, I think it was the best decision I have made. I met a mentor there, Mr David Mugawe, the deputy vice chancellor Development and External Relations, who gave me great skills in leadership. The position I have held as a residential assistant at the Honours College also helped me understand the challenges that students go through, hence inspiring me to run for the students’ topmost office to help them.
How do you intend to juggle leadership and academics?
I think one can’t be a successful engineer if he or she is not in leadership. Also when I had just joined Honours College, people thought I wouldn’t juggle the roles of a residential assistant and books. But look, I managed to keep up a CGPA of 4 points. So juggling leadership and books will be so easy. Furthermore, one of the tools of leadership is delegation. I can’t seat in a meeting when I know very well that I have a class. I delegate if I can’t be there in person. So that shouldn’t be hard for anyone to understand.
What projects are you going to start with in your first days in office?
First of all, the engineering course is facing a lot of bureaucracy and lack of adequate funding. For example, a friend of mine, Daphine Kamahoro who used to beat her classmates every semester didn’t graduate because she had to redo her fourth year project, and all this was due to a lot of bureaucracy and lack of adequate supervision.
As if that was not bad enough, half of the engineering students didn’t graduate due to failure to complete their year’s projects. I therefore intend to encourage more investments and entrepreneurship in engineering and also be a voice for the course.
We also have a campaign called “UCU for all Initiative” which seeks to help the financially disadvantaged students by involving the entire students body, teaching and non-teaching staff in making financial contribution to their tuition fees because we noticed that very little money is raised from students yet the guild government only gives Shs70,000 to every students which is really very little money.
Accountability is also the other issue that I intend to start with. I will relay accountability reports every month to students through their class representatives such that when the money has been allocated, say to the Guild fund, students should know. If this is done, we will bridge the communication gap between the guild government and the students. We also want to form a tribunal which will constitute class representatives because they are the most effective leaders who deal more with students.
How was the race?
It was very tough and the fact that my opponent came from the law faculty, it even became harder to defeat him.
How different will your government be from the previous one?
I intend to use advocacy and dialogue. I know the previous government could have failed on this, but I can’t let other people’s failure determine my destiny. I feel that I am a better mediator. We are also blessed with good leaders like the Vice Chancellor, Dr. John Senyonyi, who can listen to students. Hopefully, I can be different and highlight the students’ plight.
How do you intend to promote students freedom of expression particularly on issues affecting them?
This has been a problem because of the gap that existed between the Guild leaders and the students. But we are going to bridge the gap and that is why we are coming up with the tribunal so that when students are not happy with their MP or if they have pressing issues, they can quickly report to the class representative after which matters are discussed for a quick solution.
How do you intend to maintain humility?
The understanding of the need to serve people before you think about yourself is important. I remember the words of Rev. Rebecca Nyegenya when she said that if you feel there is more of personal reason as to why you want to be a leader, then don’t go in because you will lose your humility. That is not the case with me. I am here to serve above self.