Setting the Record Straight
There seems to be a concerted effort by Ms. Condacey Samuel, an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Management with Psychology in the School of Business and Management at The UWI Five Islands Campus to use her social media platform to spread falsehoods about the operations at the campus.
While we do not interfere with free speech and will not be responding to all criticisms of the operations of our campus, we wish to respond to Ms. Samuel via this medium as we had contacted her before and spoke to her about the issues she raised, in a private setting.
However, she has reverted to her social media platform as her means of communicating issues about the campus. We have no choice, therefore, but to respond to her publicly to set the record straight.
On September 1, 2022, Ms. Samuel made a post specifically about The UWI Five Islands Campus. When it was brought to our attention, the Campus Marketing Officer called Ms. Samuel in order to: a) better understand the issues she was having; b) provide her with appropriate information to clarify issues; and c) point her to the channels through which to communicate to get things resolved.
The issues included number of observations in relation to registration, behaviour of lecturers, extra-curricular activities and transportation arrangements. At no point did Ms. Samuels report any of her discomfiture to the administration of the campus.
Ms. Samuel failed to note that, as a student, she is straddling different levels of the student life cycle and as such, there are bound to be clashes with her classes, given that the timetable is established to meet the needs of students at the various levels of their academic journey.
So, if a student, who is in his/her final year, still has outstanding courses from the second or first year and is trying to do those while sitting final year courses, unfortunately, the timetable cannot be constructed to meet those special needs.
Further, Ms. Samuel also noted that she operates a small business and would need the flexibility in the timetable to accommodate her business hours. Again, the Campus cannot build a timetable to suit individual needs like those.
However, there are certain core principles on which we build the timetable for the institution, taking into consideration the idiosyncrasies of all our students. One of the core principles is that, as best as possible, we will place more of our classes in the evening sessions to allow working adults the time to leave their place of work and get to classes, given that a significant number of our student population, especially in the school of Business and Management, are working adults.
It must be noted that we operate a landed campus and not an online campus with asynchronous delivery of teaching and learning. While the latter is aspirational, we have not implemented that modality as yet. Our Open Campus at The UWI does provide that flexibility.
Recently on September 26, 2022, Ms. Samuel went on another rant, spreading false information about our facilities at the campus. The Five Islands Campus has seen tremendous growth over the past 36 months moving from 178 students in 2019 to over 600 students in 2023, along with over 70 adjunct faculty and over 50 full-time faculty and staff.
This meteoric growth will undoubtedly lead to challenges in terms of space, given that the campus was purpose built for a high school and is now being converted to a modern university facility.
As a community, we have explained to our members that there is a larger and more comprehensive plan to build out the physical infrastructure of the campus in very short order.
Through the adroit, visionary and energetic leadership of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, we are now on the cusp of signing a major financing agreement to execute on the masterplan for the expansion of the campus facilities. This plan has been presented in the most transparent way to all. It is no secret what the future holds for the modern facilities for The UWI Five Islands Campus.
Despite the futuristic development of the campus, we continue to operate in the most optimum way to ensure the members of our community can enjoy a respectable quality of accommodation. As we returned to face-to-face classes in September 2022, we have secured all relevant classrooms with furniture, properly planned to accommodate all students through their teaching and learning experience. Further, we have acquired and installed the latest cutting edge technologies to ensure that as a new campus, we are globally competitive in the delivery of our teaching and learning activities.
In-terms of space for our students to lounge around between classes, we have designated the gymnasium, a space which has built in seating for up to 140 persons at any one time, as one of the areas where our students can hang out between classes. There is also a courtyard that seats students. We are now in the process of acquiring tents to ensure that students can have covers courtyard space if they do not desire to use the space in the gymnasium.
Further, there is an exceptionally hard-working Guild Council that is providing innovative solutions to deal with the transportation issues for their constituents. For the record, it should be noted that it is not the University’s core business to provide transportation for students to get to the campus. Hardly ever, any university takes on this responsibility given the wide and varied mix of its student body.
However, as a campus, we have facilitated conversations with interested parties who see a market opportunity to provide transportation to students who ply the Five Islands route. We have offered them a captive market, the campus community, so they can advertise their services and capture market-share to run a profitable business in the transportation sector. This is in addition to the innovative proposals that the Guild of Students has been working on.
If Ms. Samuel is desirous of supporting the growth and development of her campus to ensure greater access to post-secondary education, which is critical to enhance the development agenda of Antigua and Barbuda and the wider, OECS region, she should use her social media platform to provide accurate information and do not mislead the public and berate the institution from which she intends to acquire a post-graduate certification to better her life and her community.
While we respect freedom of expression and accept constructive criticism to help us grow as a campus community, we do not think the cavalier manner in which Ms. Samuel has gone about identifying issues at the Five Islands Campus is adding value to the growth and development agenda. We expect, as a responsible member of the community, that she would raise her issues with the administrators and dialogue, rather than revert to social media and spreading false information.
As the campus develops and grows despite the challenges we face as an incipient institution, we want to thank the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda for the tremendous sacrifice and support they are making to The UWI FIC. Prime Minister Browne and his team in the governmental architecture have never relented in providing support to our campus.
They understand and facilitate the broader vision of having a high-quality university to move Antigua and Barbuda to the next level of its development. The hard-working staff and faculty of the FIC must be commended for their diligence, patience, and strong work ethic as we continue to build a strong and internationally competitive, high-quality university campus at Five Islands. We are building and building, stronger together.