PETALING JAYA: Student volunteers at Malaysia’s premier university are claiming that they were made to handle the “isolation” of students returning from China for the new semester.
It is routine for student volunteers to carry out the registration and orientation of new students at the start of every semester.
Universiti Malaya (UM) Tun Ahmad Zaidi Residential College Caretaker Action Committee chairman Muhammad Aiman Mohd Firhad said the 14 student volunteers at the college had only volunteered to handle the registration of these “mobility students” in the college.
“But on the night of 3rd of February, the principal told us about how KK10 (the college) will be the isolation location of the China students (PG, UG and Mobility), ” he wrote on a Facebook post yesterday. (PG stands for postgraduate and UG for undergraduate students.)
The 22-year-old residential college is mainly used to house international students, he added.
A total of 550 students from mainland China have returned to campus and registered on Feb 5.
Due to concerns over the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, Muhammad Aiman said the volunteers were not properly trained to handle the students from China.
The duties should be handled by the UM Student Affairs staff, he added.
“Instead, we had to do more than our initial jobscope, which includes creating a numbering system for the health screening process, managing the students in the health screening room, distributing food and creating a pass to monitor their movements.”
He said the volunteers also had to print copies of forms requested by the Student Health Clinic and handle student complaints.
Checks by The Star revealed the student volunteers conducting temperature checks on the students from China.
In a separate Facebook post, the 2019 UM Student Representative Council demanded that the university issue a public apology to the student volunteers, pay them compensation for doing work outside their jobscope and fully cover any medical costs if the volunteers contracted the virus or showed symptoms.
The council also demanded that an external party be hired to handle the quarantine process and make it compulsory for all UM students to undergo health screening.
There was no response from the university or the Education Ministry at press time.
However, a source from Universiti Putra Malaysia, another public university, said it was their health centre who handled all matters pertaining to the quarantine of students.
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