Traffic jams as students protest

Peters said the protest takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the south gate over the non-issuance of grades to students. 

The issue has been affecting registration for local, Caricom and international students. 

Yesterday about 300 students staged a protest outside the south gate, north gate, Hearty’s Carpark and Milner Hall.
Among those present were Guild vice president Nakesi Peters, treasurer Zoe Howard, Social Sciences representative Adiola Young, National Affairs Committee chair Akeem Joseph, IACC International Affairs Committee (IACC) chairperson Clarissa Violenous, Games Committee chairperson Samuel Williams and Hall chairs from Milner, Canada and Trinity. 

The students’ action caused traffic congestion. Some students appealed to other students to stand up for their for their rights. They also appealed to lecturers to empathise with their concerns and release the grades even though they wanted a pay increase. 

The academic term began on Monday and extends until April.  Giving an update on the protest, Matthews said: “We decided to mobilise the hall at 6.30 a.m. in the carpark and to disperse the students to block all the gates at the south gate, north gate, Hearty’s carpark and the entrance at Milner Hall. We did not allow the staff who were coming from Milner Hall to pass with their vehicles.”

Matthews added: “We allowed the students to come in as normal since we don’t want to disenfranchise our students even more. We are telling administration we would like to see our grades since it affects the registration process. 
“A number of the international students need to see their transcripts to receive funding from their banks, governments and sponsors. A few international students have not moved back to Trinidad and Tobago to pursue their degrees. They are still awaiting their grades before they can make that decision.”

Matthews said he was appealing to the stakeholders to arrive at “some form of solution or resolution towards this withholding of grades.” He said the students were most affected since “the students are the major stakeholders of the university.” 

Asked about St Augustine Campus principal Prof Clement Sankat’s response, Matthews said: “We are waiting word from Prof Sankat. He said he would like the students to continue registration and all late fees would be disbanded. But classes have commenced as normal. “

Efforts to contact Sankat on his mobile proved futile since he was said to be in meetings all day. Efforts to contact Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim on his mobile proved futile as well.

By 10 a.m., protest action had quieted down and two UWI security officers said they would open the north gate (in the vicinity of the Bus Route) to the public, if it became absolutely necessary.  Dr Russel Ramsewak: 
WIGUT to make statement today.  
Asked to comment on the students’ protest, West Indies Group of University Teachers (WIGUT) president Dr Russell Ramsewak said WIGUT did not wish to do so.

But, he said, they will be making a public statement today at 11 a.m. in front of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC). 
Dr Ramsewak said: “I will be making a press statement. Once it falls under the jurisdiction under which WIGUT operates, I will respond.”

He added that WIGUT was not part of the meetings Sankat held yesterday.

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