New UG student society head promises real improvements
- says proper record keeping a priority
By Edlyn Benfield
November 23, 2003
Students of the University of Guyana (UG) can expect positive changes with the recent installation of a newly-elected student body, promises Kadri Parris.
The 24-year-old civil engineering major was officially inducted as president of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) at a ceremony held last Friday.
As for the issues, the registration process has increasingly become a dreaded chore characterised by delays and long lines extending either from the Bursary or Loan Agency departments. Stu-dents are often forced to stand for several hours in the hot sun before their documents can be processed.
Parris says urgent action is required: "We are living in the age of information technology and UGSS intends to work harmoniously with the administration to foster the implementation of online registration and a better system of record keeping through the use of computers."
According to Parris, reducing the use of manual labour, particularly in the area of record keeping, can assist in the gradual elimination of some of the difficulties students face relevant to the accuracy or location of their grades.
In a letter carried in this newspaper earlier this month and captioned 'The University of Guyana is responding positively to legitimate criticism', Deputy ViceChancellor, Al Creighton, highlighted some of the students' concerns on the issue of grades.
Creighton admitted in his letter that in the case of grades being reviewed, the process was a lengthy one but that UG was taking steps to address the time factor. And to erase the possibility of victimisation against the student(s), the Examination Review Board is structured so that "...the reviewer is to be taken from outside the faculty and the university."
He said the UGSS President or a representative forms part of the board which also comprises the Assistant Dean of the Faculty and the Assistant Registrar (Exams), whose duty it is to ensure rules are followed and regulations and/or the student's rights are not disregarded.
Parris emphasises the importance of good communications between the UGSS and students and his team intends to adopt a straightforward approach at all times. Notices and newsletters will be published regularly.
Students can at all times lodge a formal complaint with the UGSS about their specific problems, Parris says.
The private sector is a key component in promoting development at prominent institutions such as UG and he says UGSS will seek to create links with the sector, the Diplomatic Corps and student bodies at universities abroad.
When the UG Academic Board sits, the UGSS President is present at those meetings and Parris notes this will allow for him to develop a more informed perspective on how UG is run.
Parris notes that transparency is critical in assuring students that the contingent fee of $750, paid each year at registration, is being spent suitably. The society proposes printing reports which outline its expenditure of funds and posting them on the campus notice boards.
Additionally, annual general meetings (AGMs), which Parris explains have apparently not been held for some time, must be resumed.
He says modification of some aspects of the student constitution is needed, in part to eliminate or reduce some of the constraints which inhibit the UGSS executive.
Parris also notes that the staff of the infirmary is doing "an excellent job with the existing resources" but feels there can be an improvement in facilities.
Parris and his team are also looking to make things easier for those students who attend classes which end at 9 pm or who use the library until it closes at 10 pm but are without their own means of transportation.
Since these persons usually have to walk from the campus to the railway embankment the issue of safety, especially for female students, is a concern. Though no reports have been made to him personally, Parris says it was alleged that at least two female students had been harassed in separate incidents.
He says the UGSS is considering starting a UG minibus association and plans on discussing this with representatives of the current minibus operators.
He mentioned that while campaigning to be elected, he carefully handpicked the candidates for his party, the Standard Bearers, which drew 821 votes, ahead of The Reformers (231) and New Horizons (209).
At the Tain campus, where only approximately 44 persons turned in votes, the Standard Bearers also claimed the majority.
But Parris says the UGSS will stay away from making fanciful and impractical promises. "We owe the students at least the moral decency not to make unrealistic promises to avoid duplicating previous negative experiences."
Ten Standard Bearers are a part of the present UGSS, which has 18 members other than Parris, while the others come from The Reformers and New Horizons.
These are Jason Benjamin, senior vice-president; Alvin Doris, junior vice-president; Rosalinda Rasul, secretary; Ruth Ann Hinds, assistant secretary;Vanessa Harriper-saud, assistant secretary; Ian Cole, treasurer; Iman Chin, assistant treasurer; Royston Quintin, chairman of the Publications Committee; Donna Todd, public relations officer; Kelvin Pelle, chairman of the Games Committee; Muaz Yusuf, Christopher Persaud, Abasola Simon, Sarwan Jagnarine and John Shepherd, Astor Robertson, Colin Bynoe and Andrea Meredith.