“I brought our issues to the PM” – UTECH Students’ Union President
The concerns of tertiary students were elevated to matters of national importance as UTech, Ja. Students’ Union President, Dimitri McGregor, met with Prime Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness to discuss issues affecting University students. During a courtesy call at the Office of the Prime Minister, McGregor, along with Professor Colin Gyles, Acting President of the University of Technology, Jamaica and Vice President of Planning and Operations, Dr. Kofi Nkruma-Young raised a number of challenges.
Issue #1 – Violence
Noting the increase in violent activities against university students and youth in general, McGregor questioned, “What provisions are being put in place to handle this upsurge in violence?” To this, Prime Minister Holness stated the short and medium-long term solutions which can be effected:
In the short term, Holness explained that an increase in the presence of security forces and police patrols in these areas could reduce the level of violence, while restoring students’ sense of safety.
As a medium-long term solution, Holness discussed transforming areas surrounding the campus such as Papine into a “University Town”, which is a broader development plan to improve security and job opportunities. University Towns are areas dominated by a University population. Good university towns are characterized by high student-to-resident ratio, cultural offerings, school presence and livability.
The safety of students who attend the Montego Bay-based Western Campus were also the concern of the Students’ Union leader, as he highlighted the increasing attacks on students from both UWI and UTECH, and on youth in general. This, along will the climbing death toll, has caused the situation in Montego Bay to be escalated to a national security issue; security personnel have been ramped up and curfews imposed among other approaches.
“In the interim, I am urging all students to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety, and to join with the Students’ Union in speaking out on the increasing violence against youth in our nation,” said McGregor.