UWI guild promotes innovative solutions in a post-COVID-19 era
July 4, 2020 ushered in a new era for The University of the West Indies (UWI), as the Guild of Students officially assumed their mandate as student leaders of the premier regional institution.
After an extraordinarily long campaign season due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sunday Gleaner spoke with representatives of the guild to determine some of their priority areas for the upcoming academic year. This includes devising new platforms for student engagement while also maintaining a strong commitment to community involvement.
Recently installed guild president, Sujae Boswell, outlined that his council will focus on enhancing student development, offering financial assistance and advocating for increased on-campus employment opportunities. Sujae also expressed his desire to strengthen the capacity of the guild in light of the pandemic.
“We are looking at strong and effective advocacy for students who are affected. We are going through a different period of our history so our guild will now be adapting to that change,” he stated.
“In light of the physical restrictions, we will be launching a guild website, as we believe that it is time for that type of modernisation as a guild council. This will ensure that our students can communicate with us and we can communicate with them.”
Furthermore, he noted that this emphasis on incorporating technology has additional benefits to students, as he observed that voter turnout increased during this year’s online elections.
Cultural Entertainment and Affairs Chairperson (CEAC), Jovaughn Bailey, supports this push to better integrate online platforms in the university experience.
He said, “Given the current climate, online platforms have the ability to create a more engaging and diverse entertainment selection on campus, as we can organise a wider variety of events, placing specific focus on the different tastes of our students.”
More so, integrating these platforms also aids in the development of a robust mentorship environment, as Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) representative, Kymani Shaw, explained.
“Under the faculty’s mentorship programme, we will have videos on our newly created FSS YouTube channel where we will partner with the administration to guide our new first-year students by answering all their questions concerning faculty life,” he noted.
UNITY IS STRENGTH
Additionally, maintaining community involvement was also highlighted as a priority area of the council. External Affairs Chairperson (EAC), Petegay Gentles, brightly explained that she has already started the planning of her projects.
She told The Sunday Gleaner, “The EAC portfolio will be focusing on developing our students through seminars and providing networking opportunities. Instead of allowing persons to come to us for events, such as our back-to-school treat, we will go to them with care packages for different persons in the community.”
Therefore, service lies at the heart of the guild.
As Sujae expounded, “At the end of the day, my mantra is that ‘unity is strength’. It is more than just me as the guild president but it is about the students at The University of the West Indies.”