It has been two unfortunate years since I have began studies at the University of Guyana and I will soon be entering my third. People ask why I continue to attend the university if I despise it so. Truly, the reasons are twofold. 1) I have no other options at the moment 2) I do not despise it as much as I am disappointed in it.
There are so many things wrong with UG but for the moment, I just want to focus on a few, one of which is the lack of proper seating for students.
The struggle for proper seating on the Turkeyen campus is a daily struggle, even more so when it is time for mid or final examinations. On a regular day, scores of students can be seen sitting in chairs that have no desk and can even be seen trying to hold up desks with their hands as they jot down notes with the other. I can say this because I speak from experience and I will probably be experiencing the same next semester also.
During finals, particularly this last one, hosts of students were left standing for long periods, unable to write their examinations because they lacked seats. I was able to write my examination on time because I fetched a chair from another classroom as the classes that were assigned to us had ten chairs if so many, when our class had over forty students.
I read of another incident in which students were advised to use the light from their cellular phones to continue their examinations after the power went out. I know many students must have been happy for that opportunity but the incident goes to show how very little the university respects its students and their supposed facilities fees.
While I am on the issue of finals, I want to comment upon the invigilators who are assigned to us and who act as if they are there to act out the Gods greatest mission. I do not go so far as to hope the invigilators be friendly, but a little courtesy goes a long way. During this past academic year I have had two invigilators pull rules out of their arses about the examination. The first arse pulled rule was that I could not sit with my back slouched and my legs out. The fact that my feet were in no one’s way and my posture had nothing to do with her seemed lost upon the woman. She stopped me from writing and proceeded to call upon the lecturer to discipline me as I was not following her rules. The lecturer fortunately was not as silly as she and told me to stand on my head if I wished, as long as I wrote the exam.
Then, there was the other invigilator who wanted to bar me from writing an examination because I did not have the new student I.D card. I am sure many can understand my reluctance to uplift my new I.D card given the friendliness of the UG staffers who always scowl whenever you disturb their Facebooking or live tweeting or whatever it is that they do. Despite the fact that it was not specified that one needed their new student ID card and the fact that I wrote three other examinations without question about my ID card, this woman felt that I should not write the exam. I asked her whether she would be the one to stop me from writing the exam but it didn’t seem so, so I went and wrote my exam still.
While I only speak about my experiences with these invigilators, I have seen several students humiliated because they felt the student was not up-keeping with what they believed to be the right thing.
Now, back to UG’s facilities. UG now imposes a $50,000 facilities fee which they claimed would have helped to improve (you guessed it) the facilities of the university. Failure to pay this extra fee on top of your normal tuition will result in one not being able to write their final examinations.
Of late, I have heard murmurings of increased university tuition, despite the fact that we have not seen much improvements in the university’s facilities since it was last raised.
The majority of the campus remains poorly lighted and the guards do not seem to know their purpose. I do not know whether there is a system in place which see’s the guards doing routine checks around the campus but if there is, they might have forgotten about it. The guards seem more interested in ensuring that I have some form of identification on me rather than ensuring my safety.
The administration does try in some areas. Every-time I grace one of the washrooms and find running water, hand sanitizers, paper towels and flushable toilets, I rejoice a little. The same happens whenever I pass by the empty garbage bins because I know that while the university’s administration would have us believe that these few improvements were borne out of the their promises attached to the facilities fee, I and many others who would have marched along Turkeyen know that these improvements only came when we demanded them and even so, they are spotty at best and our larger demands have remained forgotten.
Why have they remained forgotten? Merely because we have stopped speaking, many see the sight of hand soap and forgot they still need to have their education and money respected. They choose to sit about because there is nothing they think they could do. They choose to remain silent because they think the revolution has ended, not realising that the revolution only ends when significant positive changes are made and when the people are respected.