Tue | Sep 18, 2018

August Town violence leaves UWI, UTech students in fear

Published:Thursday | February 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall/Associate News Editor
Romane Duncan
Kevin Farquharson
Granville Knight

The recent flare-up of violence in August Town, St Andrew, has left students at the nearby universities in fear despite the fact that they are not being targeted by the warring factions.

On Monday, gunmen struck on August Town Road, leaving one man dead, metres from the Hermitage entrance to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus used by several students.

The Norman Manley Law School holds several classes close to that entrance, and president of its students' union, Romane Duncan, told The Gleaner that his colleagues are worried.

"In fact, I have a classmate who was on a bus that was pulled over at gunpoint, and everyone that was on it was robbed, so the fear coming from August Town is not that they think they will be targeted, but that anything can happen at any time because we are entering right at the Hermitage entrance," said Duncan.

"We would love if something could be done as it relates to the violence because it has started to affect attendance as the students are in fear for their lives."

Executive member of the UWI Guild of Undergraduates Kevin Ferguson echoed Duncan's concerns as he appealed for urgent action to stem the bloodshed, which has seen at least eight persons killed and several left nursing gunshot wounds in recent weeks.

"The violence is having a physiological impact on the students because it is like the weather. It is unpredictable, and you don't know when you will have a shootout. Students traverse the area from as early as 9 a.m. and up until 10 p.m. each day, so it has a major impact on the students, and I would like strong intervention from the Government so that we can be safe," said Ferguson.

Over at the nearby University of Technology (UTech), students are also fearful as many live in, and around, the August Town community.

"Yes, we know that we are not necessarily the targets, but the mere fact that we may become a victim instils fear, and students might have to go home early, and we are not sure about the presence of security, and that is a big issue for us," said Granville Knight, president of UTech Students' Union.