Sunday, January 21, 2018

UWI arts students protest move to new building


saying it with a sign: University of the West Indies (UWI) students, with their mouths taped, display a placard during Monday’s protest outside the Centre for Creative and Festival Arts building, Agostini Street, St Augustine. - Photo: Ayanna Kinsale

Donstan Bonn

Dressed in black and armed with placards, students of the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) at The University of the West Indies (UWI) sang, danced and beat instruments, in protest

against plans to relocate the department.

The students took to the pavement outside the department at the UWI campus in St Augustine where they vented their disapproval over plans to move them from their present location to a site at the back of the Hugh Wooding Law School in St Augustine.

All vehicles passing by adhered to the pla­cards and honked in support of the students.

Robert Noel, a theatre student, told the Express the students will continue their protest until UWI principal Clement Sankat rescinds a decision to move the department to another location.

Noel said the students wrote to Sankat last year, outlining a number of concerns with the inadequate space and dilapidated conditions at the department’s present site at Agostini Street.

He said they were very happy when they received a response indicating a new building will be constructed.

However, Noel said there were no consultations with the department heads or students on the proposed plans, which are not in keeping with what is required by the department.

He said the proposed site at the back of Hugh Wooding Law School was unsafe and not appropriate.

Noel said the breaking point came after a meet­ing last Friday when department head Jessel Murray informed students he did all he could possibly do to remedy the problem—in vain.

“What we want is for the principal to listen,” said Noel.

He said a tender for the construction of the new building went out last December, without any consultations taking place.

He stressed the specifications suggested for the new department are not adequate.

“This is a direct insult to tertiary-level arts education,” said Noel.

He said there are allegations the site where the department is currently housed will be converted to a car park to be leased to Republic Bank.

Ruth Li, a dance student, told the Express the actions of the office of the principal were disrespectful to the students’ concerns.

“Is creative arts important to the university at all?” she asked.