If there is anything the young can see on the landscape of this country that unnerves them is the ubiquitous hypocrisy that is embedded in every corner, space, and aperture in the social existence of this nation.
Twice I remarked in these pages that it has to be an anomaly that the head of Transparency Institute- Guyana is a lecturer at UG, yet both unions at UG have made public statements carried in all the newspapers that there needs to be more transparency in UG’s governance.
But that same gentleman voices an opinion on the need for transparent transaction in many institutions but never on UG.
You open the papers and go to the letter sections. Some UG lecturers write on all kinds of issues but never what takes place at UG. One lecturer last week had a published letter critical of the Government’s approach to the oil industry. He has been writing letters for years now but never will you find one on UG.
It is the same with the Bar Association and the Women Lawyers Association. A magistrate can issue the most bizarre decision but not a word of concern will come from that quarter but the Bar Association was furious over the way the GECOM Chairman was appointed. It condemned the parking meter contract.
It is the same with the Women Lawyers Association. If you want to find out if they have a collective mouth, then let a policeman commit a wrong on a young lady and all hell will break loose. But you let that same young lady, a first offender gets a jail term from an unlearned magistrate for a petty crime, you would never believe the country has a group representing female lawyers.
I find this hypocrisy not irritating; far from it, but seriously morbid and I believe it has undermined the moral courage of young people. This gross, sadistic hypocrisy affects the young people of this society in ways not easily discernible but it has a terrible pessimistic effect on them.
I spent more than half an hour yesterday looking at the YouTube viewing on the counter demonstration against a right wing, racist meeting on the lawns of the University of Washington. It just lifts your spirit to know young people can protest and defeat the enemies of freedom. It makes you feel that civilisation is alive. You feel civilisation is dead when you live in Guyana.
I read yesterday, a statement by the UG Vice Chancellor carried in the Chronicle. It gives the VC’s explanation for the reason for the recent hike in service fees at UG. I quote; “The new administrative fees announced by the University of Guyana (UG) are service-linked and would have very little impact on every student of the institution, Vice Chancellor Dr. Ivelaw Griffith has explained.
“According to the VC, one category of payments has nothing to do with students directly but applies to hire car drivers going on campus. Another area is for students who wish to use certain services. Another category caters for prospective students and another for graduates who want to utilise particular services. ‘All of those fees are service-linked; you pay the fees if you use the service.’”
I learnt in a vivid way what the legal term “locus standi” means, when in 1995 I took the University to court to ensure transparency in the selection of law students. Anil Nandlall was my lawyer. In a brilliant adumbration, Nandlall successfully argued against Keith Massiah and Rex Mc Kay when they told the judge that Kissoon does not have locus standi because not being a law student he was not affected.
If you analyse the Vice Chancellor’s reasoning, he is saying that you are only affected if you use the hire cars coming into the campus. You are only affected if you fail an exam and have to re-sit it. I find his reasoning unbelievably unscholarly. It lacks the scholarly methodology of holism. A student who has to pay an increased fee for a re-sit examination is a student.
The hike in the service fees affects students. You cannot argue its inconvenience will only be applied to a selected few. It is a students’ issue.
The shuttle taxi that charges a small fee from the highway into UG has to pay a fee to enter UG. Obviously, they will increase their charge. The logic is simple – it affects students. You can’t argue that it impacts on certain students only. A student that doesn’t use the shuttle has locus standi to take UG to court. Will we hear from civil society? What do you think?
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