Nov 19, 2015 News
Although a lot has been done to improve deplorable conditions at the University of Guyana (UG) a great deal of improvement works are still needed. This assertion was made yesterday by President of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS), Joshua Griffith, when he convened a press conference at the Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, campus.
Griffith listed a number of issues prevailing in several areas of the tertiary institution including security, infrastructure and grades.
But one primary focus that has been the need for the reduction of the University’s Facilities Fee which currently amounts to $50,000. The UGSS, according to Griffith, is proposing that the fee be reduced to $30,000.
UG had opted to increase the Facilities Fee for the past academic year. After completing an evaluation of the increased fee, Griffith said that the students’ society found a number of fundamental things lacking.
Among these, he said, was the absence of the convening of the learning resource committee. This committee, according to him, is one that was established to spend $40,000 of the $50,000. “We find that the absence, even after frequent calls to convene the learning resource committee meeting, is a direct blow to the trust and respect of the students and it goes to show that some administrative factions are not taking the students seriously,” said Griffith yesterday.
The UGSS, he noted, has therefore written to the University’s Council, the highest decision making body of the tertiary institution highlighting its several concerns in hopes of having them rectified.
The concerns were brought to the attention of the Council last week Friday (November 13, 2015) at the institution’s Annual Business Meeting (ABM). According to Griffith he is optimistic that there will be a forthcoming response by tomorrow.
Though unwilling to disclose the course of action that would be taken if the Council fails to respond within the specified time, Griffith said, “We will take action.” He has not ruled out protest action.
“We wouldn’t want to say what is that action just yet because we haven’t decided. We won’t pre-empt it,” said Griffith at yesterday’s press conference. He disclosed, however, that whatever action is taken will be one that is decided upon collectively by the UGSS executive and the student body.
But even as he mused over the need for tremendous improvements at UG, Griffith insisted that “no true transformation can come unless there is a renewing of the mind.” He observed that there are some decision makers at the institution who are “far removed from what actually obtains at the University of Guyana. Some decision makers are not in touch, save the students’ reps and the lecturers.”
It is for this reason, the UGSS President noted, that efforts are being made to call upon the decision makers and the other relevant stakeholders to reach out to the student body even as they seek to understand that what is seen on paper is not always “exactly what is the reality of the situation.”
“So you find at meetings the tone is that all is well and ‘jello’ but then when you hear from the student body, when you hear from the staff, you have a realistic perspective of things and this is what needs to be taken into serious consideration by our decision makers,” said Griffith.
The move by the UGSS to highlight the concerns at the institution represents phase two of the body’s ‘#UG Revolution’, a movement it initiated earlier this year.
“Now we are dealing with the intangibles; the quality of service, the way students are treated. Most of the issues that we have outlined now deal with the respect we get at meetings; the responsibility of the administration in being responsive to matters,” disclosed Griffith.
He added, “We are academics; we are not here for industrial action but the student body will go through the due process…We will write; we will negotiate; we will use the civilised approach and if that fails then we will use whatever approaches that are within our powers to bring actively and forcibly to the attention of the administration our discontent, our displeasure with their action or inaction.”
“We are not planning another industrial action but it’s not out of the picture; it is not that it can’t happen or it won’t happen but it is not in our immediate plan,” Griffith intimated yesterday.
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