Earlier in the month a report on what goes on behind the scenes of the College was circulated among media houses so persons understood exactly what was happening. As the new semester has begun, it is imperative that parents are made away of the environment in which their children will be for most of the day, Monday to Friday, for two years, if not rectified soon. Recently, according to the management of the College, an assessment was done by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CAPHRA) to ascertain the extent of mould and other such issues, on campus. To date, the report submitted by the agency has not been officially released; not to the staff and students, not to the public.
As far as everyone knows, withholding such a document, especially where it concerns the health and safety of staff and students, is illegal. If the authorities care about the college community, then why withhold such a document? Is it because the mould situation is so bad that there is fear if the document is made public the consequences may be too inconvenient for some people? The campus is infected all over but staff and students are in the buildings throughout the day. Oh, by the way, it appears the closeted report has leaked; copies were pinned on a notice board at one of the Divisions. Some high-up folks were not amused.
Word is that three Divisions will occupy the George Charles Secondary School but the environment there is really not any better. Some staff of George Charles are so happy to move because of the problems at the school. The buildings have electricity issues, mould, not to mention crime in the neighbourhood which poses security risks. On 12 April 2016, the school was broken into by thieves who made off with computers and other items from the Principal’s office. But not before tying and beating up the poor security guard. Additionally, the buildings are unbearably hot.
Imagine my shock when I came on campus to find staff members inside the library (one of the worst buildings on campus because of mould) with masks and gloves, well, some of them, cleaning out books. The building, which has been deemed unfit for human habitation, has library staff, their arms and legs exposed, dusting mould-infested books now being used by the staff and students. This is a job for professionals, not so? Staff should not be in there. Who ordered them to work in a highly contaminated area? So much for caring about the staff.
Since the library services were relocated, let us take a look at the so-called new initiative. If a student or staff requires literature, they are to go to the new location, inform the library rep of what they want, and then that rep will be directed to go into the mould-infested library, retrieve the required book and dust it so that it will be available for collection the following day. I need a question answered. Who is the idiot who instructed the ignorant library staff to dust a few pages of a book and deem it good enough for use? f a book has mould, that means the entire book, every single page, needs to be decontaminated. The staff or student who borrows those books also introduces mould to his or her home.
Ninety-five percent of staff on campus are complaining; the other 5% is management, many of whom want the issues on campus to cease. But they are afraid to speak out for fear of victimisation. Why should a free people be made too afraid to stand for their rights? When people are forced to choose between getting sick and losing their jobs what you have is slavery. Not freedom! Normally, in the second week of the new academic year new students are settled. Not this year. Our previous registration process had one flaw: the finance aspect. That alone had to be fixed. Instead the entire thing has been changed. Not a single new student has network login credentials, which means that those doing computer courses cannot successfully do so; no ID cards, no SALCC email addresses and if some students go on the system to check their financial status it appears that they have paid nothing because they are yet to be billed.
It would be in the best interest of the new Board of Governors, headed by Ms Ingrid Floissac, if it looked into the financial running of the College. Ask for a general audit. Look into the charges on the College’s credit card. I do believe you will be surprised at the wild spending, especially since January of this year. Twelve new AC units for George Charles when some offices at the main campus have been suffering for years. Did the College really have to spend tens of thousands of dollars at this point on the implementation of a security system, equipped with CCTV cameras all over campus? At a time when the health of staff and students is at risk? Talk about getting your priorities right.
Oh, and let’s not forget the personal purchases. Why does the College have charges at certain hotels? Soon the College will not have a dime to its name because the amount of money collected is insufficient to take care of the College. We have been waiting for a Board of Governors that will understand the plight of staff and students and I pray that Ms Ingrid Floissac and her team will be a breath of fresh air.
But wait! Where is our Minister for Education? She has nothing to say about all this? What is happening at the College is not the past . . . it is what is happening now. And she is silent? Why? Doesn’t the welfare of staff and students concern her enough to at least meet with them? Or is she, too, afraid of our big bad wolf?