Wednesday 27th April, 2005


Amidst elections controversy...

New guild gets green light

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Newly-elected UWI Students Guild president Fallon Lutchmansingh is congratulated by a student after she received her instrument of appointment.

Photo: Dilip Singh

By Indarjit Seuraj

Amidst the controversy surrounding the UWI Students’ Guild elections, newly-elected president Fallon Lutchmansingh and the other members of the UWI Unity team were installed yesterday as the new guild council.

They were given the green light late Monday evening to proceed, after meeting with deputy campus principal Gurmohan Kochhar, who told them there were no changes after the ballot recount had been done on Sunday.

The instruments of appointment were handed out by guest speaker Dr Kenneth Niles, before a packed audience and in the presence of only one outgoing guild council member.

The ceremony began with a minute’s silence for Belize-born student Rishi Akani Cummings, who it is believed committed suicide on Monday by jumping off the roof of the Natural Sciences building.

Addressing the students and administration members, Kochhar urged the new guild to work closely with the administration and reach out to students such as Cummings, before it was too late.

“Serve the students and not yourselves,” Kochhar said.

He said too many past guilds were only interested in helping themselves.

“I hope the future guild is better than the past one,” he said.

Lutchmansingh, in her feature address, told the new guild, “Let us be officers who serve the students, not ourselves.”

Referring to Cummings, she said all students should do their part in reaching out to the lonely, quiet person in the classroom who had problems, and make a difference in that person’s life.

Lutchmansingh thanked the past guild for the mistakes they made, mistakes which, she said, the new guild would learn from.

“They have shown us the direction in which we have to go,” she said.

“We are here as a union, not a government.”

Niles gave a humorous, yet powerful speech.

“What kind of students may have jumped over yesterday?” he asked.

“Who would have influenced him?”

Niles said it was too late to be pointing fingers and blaming people.

He said such people might look strong, but could not exist by themselves.

Niles said if someone had reached out to him, Cummings might have still been alive today.

“We should not be irie, we should be ‘we-rie’,” he said.

In an interview earlier in the day, guild returning officer Anthony Jackman denied claims by electoral candidate Barry Paradath.

He showed documentary evidence of a March 18 meeting which showed the then guild had agreed to appoint him as the returning officer.

Jackman said Paradath was most present at that meeting.

“There are a lot of untruths being told by Barry Paradath,” he said.

Jackman said all ballot boxes were escorted by campus police, even the ones sent to Mt Hope.

He said he witnessed the recount on Sunday evening, which was overseen by an independent auditing firm.

The findings concluded that there were no changes in any of the totals, Jackman said.

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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