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Oct 13, 2009

UB shut down by mass staff and faculty sick-out

Story PictureU.B. students showed up at the various campuses for classes today, but there were no staff or teachers on hand. That’s because the faculty and staff staged a mass sick out following a meeting last week Thursday in which the U.B. board could not reach a compromise with the teachers’ representative Leonardo Pott over a proposed three year wage freeze for employees earning above twenty thousand dollars. The board says it took the decision because it needs funds to expand the university and will hold an extraordinary meeting this Thursday. Duane Moody headed to the university’s main campus in Belmopan and filed this report from his alma mater.

Duane Moody, Reporting
Hundreds of students gathered at the Jaguar Auditorium on the Belmopan campus to oppose a decision by the U.B. Board to freeze the increments of the faculty and staff. The students say they stand in solidarity with the faculty.

Stephen Sho, President, Belmopan Student Government, U.B.
“We’ve met today with the students in Belmopan for students to be educated and become aware of the situation. In other words, I fell like we have reached to a level where students need to know what is happening in terms of the affairs of the university and the welfare of the university as well.”

Duane Moody
“What is happening?”

Stephen Sho
“Well, basically as we speak, we are aware and I’m sure you aware that the faculty and staff had a misunderstanding on the decision of board that was made for the freeze of increments for a three year. I believe that the case has been repealed for that matter to be considered. However, if there is—according to the board’s report, if there is a one point four million dollar surplus, as we speak there is no need for the freeze of increment.”

But how does this directly affect the students? Well firstly, it is believed that if the increment is granted, it will force an increase in the cost of tuition by one hundred and fifty dollars per credit hour for both Associates and Bachelors programs.

Stephen Sho
“There is the proposal in preliminary discussions on the increase of tuition fee.”

Duane Moody
“I understand that it is going to increase to about a hundred and fifty dollars, straight across the board—that’s for the associates degree program and the bachelors degree program. So for associates it’s an increase it’s an increase of about four hundred percent and for the bachelors it’s close to sixty-six percent. And you guys, I do believe are not in support of that either?”

Stephen Sho
“As it is, we are not in support of that intention or that proposal. I have made it clear to the board, they will need to bring that decision to the students and have the consultation as well as the participation. So that is important to us as we speak.”

The Board and staff will meet on Wednesday and students say they want to meet with the Board on Thursday.

Alex Anderson, Student
“I really and truly believe that we need a meeting with the Board of trustees. We, meaning all students, Belize City, PG, Belmopan. We meet eena di gymnasium and we trash out this tuition increase. All students from P.G., all students from Belize City and all the students from Central Farm; that way we will have a majority and we want to say look board members, we are calling a meeting with you. Your student body is calling a meeting with you. Hey without us, there is no University of Belize yoh know. We are not asking them please come meet with we, we di tell unnu meet wid we Thursday.”

Stephen Sho
“Let us be objective and at the same time let us make a uniformed decision from here so that we are on the same page.”

According to the student body, the teachers are also supporting their cause. Duane Moody, reporting for News Five.

The lecturers from the university today met with B.N.T.U. in Belize City to discuss a way forward.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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