There is a level of dissatisfaction among some members of the Guild of Students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus with the Guild Returning Officer over how she has reportedly handled a matter regarding this year’s election.
The issue has stemmed from what some termed a “threatening” warning from the returning officer to candidates who were said to have started their “campaigning” ahead of Friday, but they insisted that was never the case.
Barbados TODAY understands that some of the candidates who were nominated during the January 25 to February 7, 2021 period, started to make public their involvement as candidates as early as Wednesday by reposting a flyer that was created and made public by the guild, following the candidate meeting.
Others had gone ahead and started creating social media pages that they would use for their campaigning.
However, in a warning reportedly sent a day later, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, the returning officer apparently scolded the candidates, saying any information regarding their candidacy that was shared by them ahead of Friday was considered a form of campaigning.
“Candidates, did I not make myself clear when I said campaigning will start tomorrow (Friday)? I have received several complaints about candidates creating Instagram pages with election information such as slogans, positions, etc . . . THIS IS A FORM OF CAMPAIGNING,” the message read.
“Any information regarding your candidacy cannot be publicized until the campaigning period has started or until I have approved your material. If I did not give you permission, don’t do it. If you are unsure about a rule, you contact me. That is what I’m here for,” she reportedly said.
But it was the end of the note that really angered some of the candidates, which read “persons who have engaged in this early form of campaigning, your name has been noted and I will be contacting you soon. For the rest of you, you all have been warned. Do I make myself clear?”
One of the candidates who claimed to have only “created a social media page but didn’t post anything”, told Barbados TODAY he considered the message “a blatant disrespect”, adding that “she is talking down to people and she can’t talk to people like that. It is threatening. Is this what we can expect from her?”
Another candidate, who admitted to “only posting a flyer of all the candidates that was already posted by the guild”, said “she is behaving as if she is speaking to little children”.
“I find it disrespectful and it sounds like a threat. When I saw that message it angered me. This is the first time the election is being held online and therefore it would need some new rules given the situation we are facing,” said the student.
When contacted by this newspaper on Friday to find out if any disciplinary measures were pending or if she would respond to the concerns of the students, the returning officer said she had no comment.
This year’s virtual Guild of Students election for the 2021-2022 period, is scheduled for March 12.
There are some 41 candidates vying for the 17 posts.
This is not the first time that the Guild of Students at the Cave Hill Campus has been thrust into the spotlight over disagreements.
The latest incident was less than two years ago, when in October 2019 it was made apparent that there was friction between Barbadian students and non-nationals, which sources said led to the subsequent ousting of the Barbadian vice-president.
Back in March 2017, ahead of the Guild of Students elections that year, there was also controversy surrounding the disqualification of three Barbadian candidates.
It was said then that those students were disqualified from taking part since two of them were facing disciplinary proceedings while the other had failed to attain the required Grade Point Average (GPA).