A Sabbath-keeper's grouse
The Editor, Sir;
To lose $300,000.00 can deal a debilitating blow to anyone at any time and more so in the current economic climate. Yet, this is my situation as the University of the West Indies (UWI) has refused to accommodate my request to allow me to sit my examination on any of the six days outside of the Sabbath.
One would think that the recession would force some people to have a heart and to recognise that $300,000 is not chicken feed, and therefore cannot be flushed down the drain.
When the UWI advertised the programme in which I am currently enrolled, there was no indication that examinations would be administered on Saturdays, or that the institution had no respect for my constitutional rights to practise my religion.
I am appalled at the level of intolerance for minority religious groups displayed by the university's administration. How else can one explain an officer in the examination department callously explaining that the UWI is a secular institution and therefore incapable of honouring a request to have my constitutional rights protected? The same officer was only too happy to point out, too, that I was enrolled in a part-time programme - just in case I was not aware - and to explain further that the students are working people whose interests would be best served by examinations on the weekend, which means Saturday since the institution does not schedule examinations for Sunday. How can such clear violation be permitted to continue in this so-called Christian country? Is it only some Christians who have a right to practise their religion?
I am hard-pressed to find an employer who would not be willing to grant an employee a few hours off to sit an exam on a workday, and in a culture where employees are known to take a day off merely because it is their birthday, it is virtually impossible to find one who is so dedicated that he/she could not spare a few hours away from the work desk.
I am demanding refund of my tuition based on the premise that in the newspaper advertisement, there was no indication that classes and examinations would be scheduled for Saturdays. Additionally, at no time during the subsequent orientation exercise conducted by the department was I informed that this seemingly insurmountable hurdle would have been encountered.
The UWI needs to make its policy clear in its advertisements so that Seventh-day Adventists like me who are serious about observance of the Sabbath do not lose our hard-earned cash. Once we are well-informed, we will go elsewhere, since in the words of one of the UWI's esteemed professors, we now have enough universities 'fi stone dog'.
I am, etc.,