Student Guild says PM’s response was unfortunate
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Guild of Students has expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s response to its recent letter of concern, dated January 23.
The letter, which was shared with members of the media earlier today states in part: “Sir, as I pen this letter, the student roll of my University campus has fallen to just above 4,000 students, from 9,000 in the previous year. This is important as Cave Hill boasts almost 2,000 regional and international students, which admittedly has also declined. However, it is nothing short of alarming and disappointing that almost half of my campus is now non Barbadian, not due to growth, but decline. Sir, what my public has witnessed therefore is a magnificent breach of promise, of agreement and of word.”
The letter adds, “The Guild of Students has been a responsible organization throughout this exercise. We have stated our philosophical position on free education; we have stated our divergent policy positions on this matter; we have provided solutions based on a comprehensive understanding of the University system and how your policy might be more effectively adopted, but our views have not be sufficiently consulted and further the measure maybe considered draconian.”
In the two page letter, the Guild also expressed concern that Government had held “little consultation” with them.
“Respectfully, Prime Minister, I must request your offices most urgent intervention into this matter, to restore confidence, to provide stability and to speak to the people on the way forward.
Sir, if we cannot have a response from your office which provides the student body with confidence, and with comfort, then I shall have no choice but to seek a mandate from the general body of students at our Annual General Meeting on February 11, 2015, and to follow its commands. I trust this situation will not arise and look forward to your response. As always, I am,” said the letter, signed by President Damani Parris.
However, speaking at a press conference today, Parris said the letter had merely sought to make the country’s leader aware of the concerns of the student body.
He therefore felt it was “unfortunate” that the Prime Minister had described it as “threatening” during a recent lunchtime lecture put on by his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) on February 6.