ACTIVIST Dr Wayne Kublalsingh has been dismissed as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine.
Kublalsingh was told last Friday that his contract was not being renewed, on the basis that, among other issues, he poses a “risk” to the security of students on campus.
Kublalsingh disclosed yesterday his contract with the UWI, where he has taught “Introduction to Poetry” as a part-time lecturer for 16 years, was not renewed this academic year.
Three weeks ago, he called the Department of Liberal Arts to enquire about his schedule for the new term, Kublalsingh said.
He was told that his name had not appeared on the roster and was asked to contact the head of his department.
A meeting took place last Friday, during which Kublalsingh was told that he was being let go in the best interest of the students, as his situation on the ground had become “volatile”.
“It seemed to have stemmed from the beginning of the campaign, when I was warned by the police that I would be held liable and could be arrested if the crowd here became too large,” Kublalsingh said, referring to his ongoing protest outside the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair.
The UWI decision to cut ties with Kublalsingh was one taken primarily by the head of the department, Dr Louis Regis. The Express was unable to contact Regis.
Kublalsingh said he was saddened by the turn of events but had only fond memories and no hard feelings for the UWI.
“I respect and understand their position,” said Kublalsingh, who some students said yesterday is something of a “celebrity” on campus.
UWI principal Professor Clement Sankat said Kublalsingh’s part-time tenure was being reviewed since last November, when he staged a 21-day hunger strike outside the PM’s office.
“Changes took place.” Sankat said in a telephone interview.
“We had to make some changes whilst he was fasting. And that was the responsibility of the department. We had to get on with the students’ work, students had to be taught.”
Tomorrow marks 40 days since Kublalsingh and the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) re-started a campaign to persuade Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesar to use an alternative route for the Debe to Mon Desir interchange for the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin.
“It’s an auspicious date,” said HRM supporter and CEO of Plastikeep, Rosanna Farmer.
Kublalsingh’s protest, which sometimes includes a large group of supporters, is stationed outside the Office of the Prime Minister, where he said yesterday he plans to stay “until the next general election”, due in 2015.
Kublalsingh was still nursing a right wrist that was injured when he was handcuffed in Debe last year, while police tore down a camp built by the HRM near one of the highway construction sites.
During that incident, he was accused by then National Security minister Jack Warner of obstructing the police and of slapping a soldier.
The claims were never substantiated.
“I’ve been told that I need to rest and that I need to give my wrist some rest as well,” Kublalsingh said, gripping the joint, which he said can at times be very painful.
He said he is now prepared to dedicate himself fully to the HRM’s cause and will stay on at what he jokingly calls his own “diplomatic centre”—a large patio umbrella weighted by bricks, under which he sits on a high-chair—outside the PM’s office.
—with reporting by