UG is a madhouse. This is obvious from a flow
of letters by top UG officials. Dr. Anand Daljeet, former senior
lecturer, raised a number of issues about the Iwokrama project
and interestingly, shares the view of UG impropriety with Professor
Frederick Kissoon; “Every kind of marginalization that is
perceivable exists at UG. The question is, who is accountable
at UG? It is apparent that no one is accountable.” Kissoon
says, “I am in my eighteen year at UG and I can boldly state
that one of the unsavoury procedures at UG is how scholarships
are arrived at.”
This week UG answered back, half-denying half admitting. Deputy
Vice-Chancellor Al Creighton says UG is listening to “legitimate”
criticisms, hoping to restore “order.” Of course,
he reminds us that this depends on how much funding UG gets. More
money, more order. (This is the equivalent of the poor being told
by the Ministry of Education to see the private schools for a
good education.) More money, more education. Mr. Creighton reminds
us that UG has mechanisms to arrest biases, but he plays the psychologist
by noting that humans have biases invisible to these “mechanisms.”
It’s the old Shakespearean bone-and-bark dog trick; fair
is four and foul is fair. This is shoddy thinking, especially
when held against complains of transparency and fairness. But
fair is “not” foul. Fair is not dollar-valued or race-colored,
but basic human integrity. Given the murky atmosphere of UG, the
public should not accept what is told readily, especially since
integrity evaporates the higher one gets in any state institution
in Guyana. After all, the UG administration operates as a mirrored
image of PPP-PNC views.
In a separate letter previously, Mr. Creighton said that the Registrar
sits on the University Scholarships Committee. But Professor Kissoon
said this is a lie. Since Mr.
Creighton did not make amends in a follow-up letter, one can
assume that Mr. Creighton’s blunder proved that laxity of
UG administrative attitude. If the Registrar is required to sit
by law, why has he been ignored? Is it because he is Indian? How
many scholarships were awarded without his input, that is, illegally?
It seems as if “order” is needed with individuals
and not UG; after all “mechanisms” can only exist.
It is administrators who enforce them fairly or not.
While I agree that there must be some unfounded criticism, our
enthusiasm to produce bureaucratic misfits requires that speculations
be investigated, especially since Guyana is a country that needs
“committees” to get just about every basic national
service done. I agree that the Ethnic Relations Commission be
called in to UG. Speculations can often raise interesting questions,
and sift the dust from the table of the mischief-makers.
Here is something to speculate. I have been told that it’s
hard for local Indians to win the Guyana Prize for Literature.
Many alleged that in addition to being the irremovable Stabroek
News art critic, the influential Mr. Creighton (Secretary
of the Management Council, I believe) favors black writers. Also,
the Faculty of Arts at UG through which this Prize is channeled,
is dominated by blacks. Strangely, this is exactly what Professor
Kissoon has been hinting about, except in the scholarship department.
I have been told not to have anyone send submissions directly
to the Faculty, but through a newspaper or even Dr. Ian McDonald.
Of course, it’s all speculation and UG, I am sure, can muster
up evidence of 1,001 “mechanisms” that would prevent
such nonsense. But when a “first” book like Adiadne
& Other Stories (by Mr. Ruel Johnson) wins for fiction,
it must raise eyebrows. A critical reading of it shows an author
with unquestionable talent experimenting, yearning to break free,
but the stories themselves or the book are nothing unusual. With
respect, I did not find it to be of Prize-winning quality. Maybe
the other entries were all worse. But what if some other person
did submit stories that were superior? It forces him/her to speculate.
And, given our racial landscape and the fact that local Indian
writers are not winning, despite entering each year, it must lead
suspicion. Who is to say that nothing is happening surreptitiously
(secretly)? US$5,000 “prize” money is a lot of cash,
Therefore, newspapers and international bodies with interests
at UG must scrutinize UG much more. The group overseas (Annan
Boodram etc.) created to help promote UG should think carefully
about these “speculations.” The PPP-PNC camp has and
will use UG for their partisan benefit. From within they infiltrate;
from outside, they pretend to see no evil and hear no evil. E.g.,
the racist-bully incident on the basketball court against the
UG Hindu Society (Diwali-rangoli) has gone untouched by either
Mr. Robert Persaud (PPP youth leader) or Ms. Laurene Nestor (PNC
youth leader), not to mention Mr. Creighton in his “Diwali”
piece for Stabreok News. The two "youth" leaders
were very loud and animated against GIHA (Sarwan
issue), claiming to be against events and incidents of “division.”
Our newspapers should acquire the UK-affiliated report on the
Iwokrama project, instead of merely accepting the selective extracts
offered by UG Vice Chancellor, Dr. James Rose. What he quoted
seems fair. Now, what was not quoted? While it is a colossal blunder
for UG to have undertaken such an experiment without the basic
tools required, it is equally irksome to hear an educator of such
caliber display such gravity towards poor ethics by saying to
us not to fuss, because “outages are an unfortunate reality
of our everyday existence.” I want to say that administrative
idiocy is also an everyday thing, but I cannot; that is, directly.
UG does need lots of money. But, if an entire nation could not
get one generator, and that’s acceptable (no one was punished
for the lapse), I think it needs new people with integrity to
rescue it from under the dead weight of its poor administration.