Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Editors' Forum | JUTS wants greater participation in decision-making

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 12:23 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Everton Rattray
Davey Haughton
Christina Williams

The Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS) says its student leaders are facing resistance from some institutions that deny them the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes.

Everton Rattray, president of JUTS, said that the union will be conducting research to identify universities and colleges that deny student bodies the opportunity to sit on the board of these institutions.

He was addressing a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last week at the newspaper’s head office in Kingston.

“... Students make up the population. Students are the business through which institutions operate, and if they don’t have a voice in the decisions that are made about them, then that is completely ridiculous,” said Rattray.

Davey Haughton, acting policy analyst, Youth and Adolescents Policy Division in the Ministry of Education, said that the concerns of JUTS have been noted.

“We would have got through Everton, informal communications and we have been asking for them to perhaps do a survey and submit that in a position to the ministry so that we could act on it,” he added.

Other concerns

According to Haughton, the student body had other concerns apart from representation on the board of institutions.

He said that under the university or the college charters, there might be arrangements with the student council to hand over fees which finance the operation of the council. However, he added that there have been instances where the administration did not hand over the funds or used it as a type of control mechanism, limiting the capability of the student body. Haughton said that the ministry was still awaiting formal complaints to take action.

Rattray, however, commended The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, for working with the student leaders at the institution.

“We must commend the UWI, in particular, with their student union that has full autonomy with dealing with their financial matters through their guild manager and then the guild president. Christina Williams, president of the Guild of Students at the UWI, said that the university was the only campus that allowed students that privilege.

“We at (Mona) are the only university that has autonomy over funds, as all the other universities (Cave Hill and St Augustine), have to apply to the bursary,” she said. According to Williams, students at the UWI Mona, campus pay fees directly to the guild, something that was stipulated on a charter level and not policy level that the Government would mandate. Haughton agreed, adding that that sort of arrangement was facilitated through the university charter or the college charter. However, he noted that as student bodies evolved, the money is channelled through the university so that proper auditing can be done.