There may be fewer fetes at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) soon, but it will be for a good cause.
President of the Guild of Students Kai Bridgewater disclosed today that consideration was being given to diverting funds that would normally be used for entertainment events to help students who are struggling to pay tuition fees.
A final decision will not be made, however, until next month’s guild retreat.
During a press conference to announce plans to assist Barbadian students in paying for their UWI education, Bridgewater, who was accompanied by his counterparts from the Mona and St Augustine campuses, said the guild would be playing a greater role in helping develop the student population.
It is aiming to absorb the impact of tuition costs for at least 100 students, and will also seek to create a “Consolidated Welfare Fund, much larger than ever before” in an effort to help as many students as possible, Bridgewater said.
“The last thing we have already pledged to do is create scholarships. So, we will create seven scholarships – one for academic excellence in each faulty, one for excellence in sport, and one for excellence in any extracurricular activity,” he explained.
The guild is funded through the annual $120 guild fee each student at the Cave Hill campus is required to pay, along with support and sponsorship received through various partnerships.
But Mona campus, Mikiela Gonzales has put Cave Hill students on notice that more assistance would mean less partying.
“If it means we have to have one less party or one less entertainment activity, what Kai is saying is that instead of [spending] on entertainment activities, the guild understands that this might be even more meaningful to students,” she said.
A supportive President of the Guild of Students at the St Augustine Campus Jonathan St Louis-Nahous added that the guild wanted to make sure it catered to the needs of the students and provided opportunities for them to develop, both academically and socially.
“Because needs change we try to respond to it and react to it as it comes up, and right now one of the strongest needs we are seeing, one of the most commonly occurring one, is finances. That is why we are putting systems in place for students, to kind of act as a buffer to prevent them from having to reach a stage where they have to possibly leave the university. So that is what we don’t want to happen,” he said.
“So we try to look and assess all the initiatives and see which ones we can really do without and perhaps which ones we might be able to cut back on certain expenses and that is where we will cut first.”
Bridgewater was quick to add that students should not worry about cuts in funding for activities of the university’s various clubs and societies, adding that based on last year’s budget, there was room for the planned welfare fund and scholarships.
“It is all about reallocation. It doesn’t mean the clubs and societies will have to take a hit….The Guild of Students will not be trying to take away from them. We will look for alternative means, whether it is partnerships with private entities to ensure that the financial needs of the students are being serviced, and at the same time not taking away from the life of the campus,” he added.