President of the Students Guild at UWI St Augustine Aishwarya Maharaj has expressed "grave concern" over the potential jeopardy of final exams resulting from the West Indian Group of University Teachers (WIGUT) protest action.
In a statement sent to Newsday via WhatsApp, Maharaj said the heightened apprehensions among the student body, including regional and international students, over the financial risks and uncertainty surrounding potential exam delays were particularly troubling.
Maharaj described the lack of response from the administration as "conspicuous" and "deeply disconcerting."
"The absence of clear communication only intensifies student anxieties and we urgently call upon the administration to promptly address this matter. This lack of action is regrettably disappointing."
Maharaj believes there is no visible resolution to the ongoing protest, saying it casts a shadow over the reputation of the UWI St Augustine campus, associating it with discord and educational disruption.
"The Guild calls upon the administration to expedite a resolution to this ongoing issue, emphasising the imperative to safeguard the reputation of UWI. We, the Guild, expect the immediate resolution of this matter, ensuring the seamless progression of the remainder of the semester."
Maharaj said WIGUT had told the guild "lecturers are quite busy and would not be able to meet further and correspondence would only be facilitated via e-mails."
On November 7, Maharaj said the guild was “profoundly disappointed” by the protest, during a phone interview with Newsday, saying students were being used as collateral in the wage dispute. Maharaj mentioned that the guild had held two meetings with WIGUT in an attempt to find a compromise and mitigate the impact on students, but they were unfruitful.
On November 7, WIGUT president Dr Indira Rampersad told Newsday there had been no progress in salary negotiations and a 14-day ultimatum had been issued to the government to revise its prior two per cent wage increase offer. Rampersad said if the proposal remained unchanged, WIGUT's members would regroup and "restrategise."
After the deadline expired, Newsday contacted Rampersad on Wednesday and was told the union and campus principal Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine will meet on Friday, and an update will be provided afterwards.
Last year, the government announced a ten per cent reduction in funding for the campus, which further strained relations between the lecturers and the authorities.