UWI political scientist slams PM’s criticisms of his principal

University of the West Indies (UWI) political scientist Dr Tennyson Joseph has labelled Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s attack on outgoing Cave Hill Campus principal and incoming UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as “political immaturity”.

He also suggested there may also be an element of what he called “professional envy”.

Dr Joseph, who heads the Department of Government, Sociology, and Social Work at Cave Hill, told Barbados TODAY that Stuart’s comments were reminiscent of the 1970s when the role of the UWI was not understood and the regional institution was heavily criticized by leaders and civil society groups.

Political Scientist Tennyson Joseph
Political Scientist Tennyson Joseph

“That was the stage of societal immaturity. Our societies have moved on from that . . . so what the Prime Minister is demonstrating is a kind of political immaturity in the sense that there is always going to be a university that is independent and autonomous of any political authority,” the political scientist explained.

At a joint meeting of the Democratic Labour Party’s St Michael South, South East and City constituency branches last Sunday, Stuart accused Sir Hilary of disrespect and blasted him for criticizing Government’s introduction of tuition fees for Barbadians attending the university.

“Barbados has one government and I consider it most disrespectful and ungracious for any principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies or any other principal of any other educational institution in Barbados to pose as an alternative government of Barbados,” Stuart said.

Dr Joseph contended that Stuart, a Cave Hill graduate, was showing a “kind of fear” of the university and appeared to be treating it like a high school where the principal and teachers were afraid to speak.

“A university is a place of independent scholars. It is a community of scholars so those people who assume it is a high school where you have a school principal and a prime minister picks up the phone and speaks to the principal about what the teachers are doing, is not what a university is. If that is what it was, then it would cease to exist as a university.”

Dr Joseph noted that while there was evidence in the wider society that some groups appeared “muted in fear of the Government, any society that prides itself on being a democracy should not want that to happen”. He insisted that the Prime Minister’s charges were unfounded.

“Making public comments about policies is not to present oneself as an alternative government and everybody knows that. It really is an indication of the ruling Government’s lack of understanding of a role of a university and the authoritarian instinct which it holds that every sector of society must be beneath the foot of a government. That does not exists in a mature democracy.”

The academic said it was very “shocking” to see a Barbadian leader lashing out at a Barbadian vice chancellor of the UWI and it appeared the statements may have been influenced by professional envy.

“There is something called professional envy in which people who are very often contemporaries look across at each other and despise the fact that they are professionally better off. A lot of the Prime Minister’s comments sounded like there was professional envy to the political autonomy of the university vice chancellor.”

Dr Joseph added: “There was professional envy to what he called a protected job which really means that as a politician we face the polls every five years, our tenure is limited, but you at the university have permanent tenure and that is what I mean by professional envy. There was also professional envy in the sense that Sir Hilary has just been elevated to the rank of vice chancellor and what the Prime Minister was trying to do was to diminish his status.”

Dr Joseph found no fault with Professor Beckles’ response which called for a meeting with Stuart to discuss matters relating to education and other issues. However, he suggested that Sir Hilary should have used the occasion to clearly outline the role of the university and dispel false notions about the UWI.

He added: “This notion that Cave Hill is owned by Barbados and Mona is owned by Jamaica is not true. There are 15 governments that contribute to the UWI as a collective – so the vice chancellor or any university academic is not beholden to any Caribbean government.

“Of course, there is a way we conduct our public affairs; we don’t insult anyone, we don’t call them names, that is for partisan people to do. Our language has to do with policy, our language is respectful. So I think that one has to remind the Prime Minister what the role of a university is,” the political scientist said.

6 Responses to IMMATURE!

  1. Rosalind Best
    Rosalind Best April 23, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Dr. Joseph you are absolutely right in your response to the prime minister. I think our prime minister has ran out of ideas and is watching his shadow.

    • Andrew The Voice April 23, 2015 at 5:38 am

      Really funny.

  2. carson c cadogan April 23, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Joseph can be ignored, he is a well known Barbados Labour Party.

    If he said anything different I would have been surprised.

  3. lswiltshire April 23, 2015 at 9:08 am

    your comment is an obvious non sequitur.
    joseph has articulated his position very carefully and clearly
    it is clear that the “prime fool” is losing it
    sometimes sad when a poor likkle boy gets more than he expected and more than he can handle
    Fumble has never excelled at anythng, anytime anywhere–and that is well known

  4. Adrian Hinds April 23, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I agree with Joseph; Stuart comments are stupid to say the least. I would rather him continue to be silent than to engage in the nonsense of crying down people. I know Hillary before he went off to England to study and I feel certain to say that Hillary’s response is more out of respect for his own position and that of the office of Prime Minister, than for the mere man who currently occupies the latter. Hillary that I knew then would have cuss Stuart’s ass stink like I would today if he were to ever cross my path. stupse!

  5. Lauriston Applewhaite. April 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Since when the leader of our SWEET COUNTRY cant say what he has to say to his Island people ,Joseph can go to hell ,Sir HILLARY can defend himself .


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