Vice-Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi on Friday urged the newly-elected president and members of the University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS) to be an active society that will go down in the annals of history as having done something good for the university.
“In my years here, the student society has been very dormant. We want you to do something, I want to see the student society raising funds, you owe the society that…you don’t pay school fees, you pay lesson fees here, the taxpayer covering all the cost, so in return you want to give something back…I want under your leadership to identify one project that when we come back here in ten years we can say that we did this during my time,” Opadeyi told the gathering at the installation of the new UGSS Executive Council at the Turkeyen Campus’ Education Lecture Theatre.
Opadeyi noted that the low level of attendance by the faculty representatives was not good and that the university administration is hoping to have more persons come out next year. “I want to suggest that next year we make it an open air event. It needs to be a celebration.
This is something we should celebrate. It is something that all of you are getting into for the first time. You are in the position where you can either break your life or make your life,” he said.
“Some of you may become members of the council of the university, that is the highest decision-making of this university and you are expected as a member that the quality of your presentation has to be reached. So, make sure that you know that you are not only representing the student, but you are representing the university,” he added.
The Vice-Chancellor also charged the new members to remember the oath they took when they entered the office, despite the many challenges they will face. “There will be challenges, and it is a tall responsibility but you can step up to the plate, we want you to be a part of the improvement of the university, don’t behave like trade unionists looking for a fight… we want you to sit down with us and tell us what is wrong,” he noted.
Opadeyi also told the society members that they should revise the constitution within the next three months. “No borrowing of money. If that is in your constitution then take it out. Yes, you might have to raise money to run your campaigns, but don’t feel that you have to borrow the money. Make sure that we run this place properly. We cannot allow any student to come into the students fund and be borrowing $1M and just behaving as if there is no control,” he said.
The last UGSS President Ganesh Mahipaul did not complete his tenure after he was disciplined by the UGSS Executive Council over the borrowing of funds. Mahipaul borrowed $ 1,095,000, which was repaid by the end of May this year.
Mahipaul, who said that he was informed that he was found guilty of misconduct and also of the misappropriation of funds by converting and spending the society’s funds on his personal expenses, has maintained that borrowing is constitutionally permitted.
Opadeyi on Friday also stated that an Administrative Officer will also be employed for the student society. “It is going to be a full-time person working there.
We hope to get a good candidate who can manage the office for five years. This person [will] be like a guidance officer, letting you know these are the things you can and cannot do,” he said, while adding that the officer will not be making the decisions in the office but could seek the intervention of the university’s management if warranted.
In addressing the gathering, Registrar of the University Vincent Alexander echoed Opadeyi’s sentiments on reforming of the constitution. “During the elections campaign students were heard saying what they will implement and what they want to do. The constitution needs to be reviewed and reformed,” he said.
Newly-elected UGSS president Richard Rambarran, in his brief remarks, said that the society has great plans for the university and will not just take a laid back approach. “UGSS will become an active body; the mis-occurrences will be no more. You will see a turnaround in the university. We are not going to just sit back… one of the first things that we want to do is revise the constitution,” he promised.
Rambarran also said that the society hopes to develop a better relationship with the administration. “For too long this has been a push and pull relationship with the UG administration. Push and pull gets nothing done, we cannot fight one another, we need to work together,” he added.