The History of the UTech, Ja. Students’ Union: Power of Students

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       Student Leadership has always played a significant role in the development of the students here at the University of Technology, Jamaica. The philosophy of the University is to promote lifelong learning, personal development and service to the community. As such, the birth of a student-led organization, founded on these principles of representation and service, was inevitable. And thus, we have the University of Technology, Jamaica Students’ Union.

        The UTech, Ja. Students’ Union has been a part of the University since its conception in 1958. Officially established as a representative body for students in 1961, the main purpose of the Union was to foster a sound relationship between the governing body of the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) and the students. It provided the opportunities for students to be active in college politics by allowing their voices to be heard in regards to their rights, academic freedom and the promotion of students’ cultural, social and physical welfare.

       Fifty years later, the Students’ Union Council, the governing body of the Students’ Union, consists of thirty-three members, both elected and appointed, to lobby on the behalf of students on all levels of democratic-decision making. They are our first and final line of defense on both the Academic Board and Governing Council.

       The council consists of several factions that aid in the smooth operation and deliverance of efficient and effective service to the student body of the University. Elections in the early days of the University were informal, but over time, systems were put in place to legitimise the process. Now, elections are usually held before the summer semester in a grand gala of nominations, campaigning, the infamous Firing Line and finally, the use of the Caribbean Sculpture Park to host the voting stations. There are 20 elected councillors while the remaining councillors are appointed by the executive body.The Board of Executives, student-elected positions and the governing body of the Council, is made of of 6 executive members, including the President. The Board of Representatives has 14 Faculty Representatives (including the Resident Students Representative, Western Campus Representative & the International Student Representation. The Board of Directors, student-appointed by the Board of Executives, follows with nine posts. Lastly, the Board of Advisors also consists of three appointed individuals.

      The motto of the Students’ Union is “To Serve and To Represent”. The theme for the Students’ Union Council for the AY 2017/8 is ‘Leadership Y.O.U. can believe in: Effective. Efficient. Transparent.’ This body of representation seeks to foster effective communication between the student body and the University council; defending the rights of all students academically, socially and otherwise in hopes of promoting unity and a sense of belonging; and to provide assistance financially through bursaries and grants to ease financial pressure on all students attending the University.

     It was once said that with great power comes great responsibility. The Students’ Union is a magnificent platform for the application of one’s right to debating, creating and amending the policies that govern the student body. As agents of change, the Students’ Union Council is here to serve the student body with the utmost pride and distinction. We look forward to another successful year.

 

Kriss-Ann Haughton

USU Editorial Committee

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