Sun | Sep 26, 2021

Laurie Foster: Intercol and the misused airline ticket

Published:Monday | November 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A few weeks ago, Foster's Fairplay highlighted a matter of an allegedly misused airline ticket which, in this column's view, has not received appropriate official attention.

The rightful ticket holder, a female, was selected to represent Jamaica at the World University Games (WUG) this past summer. The intention then was to clear some dark clouds concerning her integrity.

The young miss, who is a student at the University of Technology (UTech), was named to the team on the basis of impressive early-season performances. However, she was injured at the June National Championships.

While awaiting the results of tests to ascertain the extent of the damage, she prepared herself for travel to the venue in South Korea. Her ticket, purchased by the umbrella group for tertiary institutions, Intercol, was for airport pick-up. It routed her Kingston-New York-Seoul on the outgoing voyage. Unfortunately, at the last minute, came news that the severity of her condition effectively ruled her out.

Team officials at the Games' location assembled to meet her and were surprised that she did not arrive. Subsequent investigation revealed that the ticket was issued and used, but only to travel on the leg, Kingston-New York.

It became clear that someone took advantage of the athlete's inability to proceed on the intended trip and journeyed to the US city. Two thoughts sprung to mind.


Possible fraudulence


First, there must have been complicity internally for an individual other than the accredited athlete to travel on the ticket.

Added to that was the question of it being a fraudulent act, with person or persons liable to a legal sanction.

Foster's Fairplay turned detective - an area of service in a former employ. The only problem arose when it was revealed by those in the know that this time, the authority to make such probes vanished with the change of employment.

Somehow, not wanting to drop it on account of the obstacles, a way had to be found. Letting the chips fall where they may, truth was the objective.

Wanting to bring closure and remove any lingering doubt as to who the perpetrator of the perceived wrong could be, the Intercol top brass had to be the next stop.

The organisation is a conglomerate of educational institutions, where the teaching of ethics, proper values and exemplary mores ought to be a given. After all, they are tasked with the awesome responsibility of preparing young minds for the outside world.

That said, together with the information - call it evidence, if you will - the matter was clearly one for the police, ably assisted by the governing body, as complainant.

This seemed impatient of debate as the purchaser of the ticket is the party who would have suffered from the suspected misuse.

Contact with Intercol, despite met with initial enthusiasm, has, after an inordinate wait, resulted in little more. This appears to be another instance of gross dereliction of duty.

It seems as though there is an institutionalised reluctance to do the right thing in such matters.

Foster's Fairplay recalls a comment several years ago by the highly respected former public critic and newspaper columnist, the late Morris Cargill. Analysis was being done on the then official response to the possession of "a little marijuana". The find was being described as a "lesser crime". Cargill responded that there should be no such thing, as 'crime begets crime'.

Therein lies a message to the Intercol hierarchy. The scourge of vicious criminality has hit the nation with telling force. One of the colleges under its umbrella was brought to its knees recently by a horrible incident, still troubling the mind.

The twisted mind that conjured that evil act did not necessarily first activate on that dreadful evening on Hope Boulevard. It could very well have had its genesis as an act such as the one committed by the person who presumably applied for, and used, that airline ticket.

There is a potent call for the country to have a conscience, a sharp distinction between right and wrong. The spotlight in this matter is on Intercol.

Educators, do the right thing.