SIR ARTHUR LEWIS COM­MU­NITY COL­LEGE: THE SAGA CON­TIN­UES!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By

Prof. Anony­mous

Ear­lier in the month a re­port on what goes on be­hind the scenes of the Col­lege was cir­cu­lated among me­dia houses so per­sons un­der­stood ex­actly what was hap­pen­ing. As the new se­mes­ter has be­gun, it is im­per­a­tive that par­ents are made away of the en­vi­ron­ment in which their chil­dren will be for most of the day, Mon­day to Fri­day, for two years, if not rec­ti­fied soon. Re­cently, ac­cord­ing to the man­age­ment of the Col­lege, an as­sess­ment was done by the Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CAPHRA) to as­cer­tain the ex­tent of mould and other such is­sues, on cam­pus. To date, the re­port sub­mit­ted by the agency has not been of­fi­cially re­leased; not to the staff and stu­dents, not to the pub­lic.

As far as ev­ery­one knows, with­hold­ing such a doc­u­ment, es­pe­cially where it con­cerns the health and safety of staff and stu­dents, is il­le­gal. If the au­thor­i­ties care about the col­lege com­mu­nity, then why with­hold such a doc­u­ment? Is it be­cause the mould sit­u­a­tion is so bad that there is fear if the doc­u­ment is made pub­lic the con­se­quences may be too in­con­ve­nient for some peo­ple? The cam­pus is in­fected all over but staff and stu­dents are in the build­ings through­out the day. Oh, by the way, it ap­pears the clos­eted re­port has leaked; copies were pinned on a no­tice board at one of the Divi­sions. Some high-up folks were not amused.

Word is that three Divi­sions will oc­cupy the Ge­orge Charles Sec­ondary School but the en­vi­ron­ment there is re­ally not any bet­ter. Some staff of Ge­orge Charles are so happy to move be­cause of the prob­lems at the school. The build­ings have elec­tric­ity is­sues, mould, not to men­tion crime in the neigh­bour­hood which poses se­cu­rity risks. On 12 April 2016, the school was bro­ken into by thieves who made off with com­put­ers and other items from the Prin­ci­pal’s of­fice. But not be­fore ty­ing and beat­ing up the poor se­cu­rity guard. Ad­di­tion­ally, the build­ings are un­bear­ably hot.

Imag­ine my shock when I came on cam­pus to find staff mem­bers in­side the li­brary (one of the worst build­ings on cam­pus be­cause of mould) with masks and gloves, well, some of them, clean­ing out books. The build­ing, which has been deemed un­fit for hu­man habi­ta­tion, has li­brary staff, their arms and legs ex­posed, dust­ing mould-in­fested books now be­ing used by the staff and stu­dents. This is a job for pro­fes­sion­als, not so? Staff should not be in there. Who or­dered them to work in a highly con­tam­i­nated area? So much for car­ing about the staff.

Since the li­brary ser­vices were re­lo­cated, let us take a look at the so-called new ini­tia­tive. If a stu­dent or staff re­quires lit­er­a­ture, they are to go to the new lo­ca­tion, in­form the li­brary rep of what they want, and then that rep will be di­rected to go into the mould-in­fested li­brary, re­trieve the re­quired book and dust it so that it will be avail­able for col­lec­tion the fol­low­ing day. I need a ques­tion an­swered. Who is the id­iot who in­structed the ig­no­rant li­brary staff to dust a few pages of a book and deem it good enough for use? f a book has mould, that means the en­tire book, ev­ery sin­gle page, needs to be de­con­tam­i­nated. The staff or stu­dent who bor­rows those books also in­tro­duces mould to his or her home.

Ninety-five per­cent of staff on cam­pus are com­plain­ing; the other 5% is man­age­ment, many of whom want the is­sues on cam­pus to cease. But they are afraid to speak out for fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion. Why should a free peo­ple be made too afraid to stand for their rights? When peo­ple are forced to choose be­tween get­ting sick and los­ing their jobs what you have is slav­ery. Not free­dom!

Nor­mally, in the sec­ond week of the new aca­demic year new stu­dents are set­tled. Not this year. Our pre­vi­ous regis­tra­tion process had one flaw: the fi­nance aspect. That alone had to be fixed. In­stead the en­tire thing has been changed. Not a sin­gle new stu­dent has net­work lo­gin cre­den­tials, which means that those do­ing com­puter cour­ses can­not suc­cess­fully do so; no ID cards, no SALCC email ad­dresses and if some stu­dents go on the sys­tem to check their fi­nan­cial sta­tus it ap­pears that they have paid noth­ing be­cause they are yet to be billed.

It would be in the best in­ter­est of the new Board of Gov­er­nors, headed by Ms In­grid Flois­sac, if it looked into the fi­nan­cial run­ning of the Col­lege. Ask for a gen­eral au­dit. Look into the charges on the Col­lege’s credit card. I do be­lieve you will be sur­prised at the wild spend­ing, es­pe­cially since Jan­uary of this year. Twelve new AC units for Ge­orge Charles when some of­fices at the main cam­pus have been suf­fer­ing for years. Did the Col­lege re­ally have to spend tens of thou­sands of dol­lars at this point on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a se­cu­rity sys­tem, equipped with CCTV cam­eras all over cam­pus? At a time when the health of staff and stu­dents is at risk? Talk about get­ting your pri­or­i­ties right.

Oh, and let’s not for­get the per­sonal pur­chases. Why does the Col­lege have charges at cer­tain ho­tels? Soon the Col­lege will not have a dime to its name be­cause the amount of money col­lected is in­suf­fi­cient to take care of the Col­lege. We have been wait­ing for a Board of Gov­er­nors that will un­der­stand the plight of staff and stu­dents and I pray that Ms In­grid Flois­sac and her team will be a breath of fresh

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