Reaction not merely a brouhaha

Noel Kalicharan’s position on the Executive Master of Business Administration issue in two newspapers of December 10 seems seriously flawed.
In the first instance, he seems to defend the concessions given to the recipient on the basis that “UWI (The University of the West Indies) makes concessions to students all the time”, pointing to issues of illness, disability and death, and in his subject area, of one instance of repeated failure in exams which would have been compensated for by an oral exam.
No one can object to UWI gran­ting concessions to students if they are well deserved, as in the first three instances above, but in none of these situations should it be presumed that the make-up “test” given as part of the concession shall amount to a lowering of the standards set in the particular subject area for all students.
Should that be the case, where is the equivalence in terms of merit of the degree awarded, and if this is the practice at UWI, is this not a gross injustice to students aspiring for excellence in relation to the established standard?
Concessionary situations should be automatically accompanied by a lowering of the class of the degree, which seems to be the case in some situations, according to Mr Kalicharan, and this is not only laudable, but fair and just.
My objection to Mr Kalicharan’s argument that the “brouhaha” against the recipient is because he is a “public official” and by implication, not because he is a student, is precisely for that reason, for the beneficiary is not merely an ordinary public official, but the second or third high ranking official in this country after the Prime Minister, whose actions and behaviour should be seen as model and worthy of emulation.
I am disappointed an academic of 37 years’ standing, as Mr Kali­charan claims, fails to see the fallout that can emerge from such a perception regarding the holder of such high office. Further, his attempt to be dismissive about the use of the insignia of such high office as merely another piece of paper is to miss its powerful symbolism in terms of persuasion and his “red herring” of not focusing on questionable external degrees instead of academic standards which this issue involves is equally fallacious.
To merely see the reaction to this issue as “brouhaha” and the need for “sensationalism” is a gross misreading of the situation.
Dr Errol Benjamin
via e-mail
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