The University of the West Indies (UWI) should reinstate Professor Brendan Bain, post-haste, as director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) network because he was not accused, nor was it revealed, that he had been derelict in his duties in that role.
So the suggestion by Dr Carolyn Gomes, executive director of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and its finance manager Ivan Cruickshank that it was a conflict of interest issue with the professor, vis-a-vis his association with CHART and then giving his professional opinion on the September 10, Caleb Orozco constitutional challenge, against the Belizian country’s criminal code to decriminalize buggery, was only a lame excuse for CVC to acquiesce to the demands of the 33 lobbying groups who had advocated for Professor Bain’s removal.
The brouhaha had resulted because Caleb Orozco, a gay Belizian man was arguing that the ten-year prison sentence for buggery violated his right to human dignity and personal privacy. Professor Bain, a pioneer in clinical and infectious disease practice, had testified that the risk of contracting HIV was significantly higher among men who had sex with other men.
According to an article in the Observer, by Karyl Walker (Protesters Picket UWI In Support Of Sacked Professor, May 22), a group of concerned citizens gathered in front of the UWI main campus gate to lend their support for the sacked professor. And at the time of writing, hundreds had signed a petition in favour of Professor Bain’s reinstatement.
More healthy protests are needed to avert this reverse discrimination, instigated by the 33 coalition groups that were apparently instrumental in the professor’s ouster. Does any lobby group have the right to stifle an individual’s professional opinion because it runs counter to its specific agenda?
Freedom of speech should be for all, and a professional opinion should be examined for its content and not be discounted and replaced with emotional feelings.
Historically, universities have been the seat of learning and free thinking. The administrators should not now join forces to be part of a growing trend to replace fact for fiction and appease certain groups to remain politically correct.
As the battle lines are drawn, it was reported in an article, published in The Gleaner by senior reporter Erica Virtue (Battle Over Bain Continues, May 25) that CVC’s executive director Dr Gomes remained adamant that UWI would not reverse its decision and it was futile for the protests to continue. However, in the same article, it was also reported that the protesters were not daunted and that they had started an email campaign and had also gathered about 2,000 individuals to write letters for Professor Bain’s reinstatement to the vice-chancellor of UWI, Professor E. Nigel Harris.
Let’s hope that common sense prevails and Professor Brendan Bain would be judged by his stewardship at CHART. He should not have been summarily dismissed for giving his professional opinion in the Caleb Orozco, September 10 Belizian constitutional challenge.
–– GODFREY MOLH