On Thursday 18th October, 2018, students of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus protested to highlight the insufficient security forces and mechanisms in place for students on campus who are consistently vulnerable to physical attacks by criminals. The University’s Administration should place the efficient protection of students as a top priority. No one should ever be made to feel unsafe but it is particularly unsettling to know that acts of violence are being perpetrated in an environment that is supposed to mould the future leaders of society.
It is rather disheartening that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service did not see it fit to meet with the advocates spearheading the protest but rather to detain and work against them, not for them. Who are we to turn to when the very institution that has sworn to protect and serve us, no longer serves us? To whom are we to turn when the very institution that has sworn to protect and serve us forcefully arrests us while we are crying out for basic human rights?
Robbery, attempted sexual assault, attempted rape and any unlawful act should not be synonymous with an educational facility. Therefore, the Trinidad Youth Council stands in solidarity with the students and the Student Guild of the UWI in their democratic right to voice their concerns and opinions to a cause that not only affects themselves but also the youth of Trinidad and Tobago which is security in what should be a ‘safe space’.
The theme for International Youth Day 2018 was ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’. A ‘safe place’ was defined by the UN as being a space where youth come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves while ensuring their dignity and safety. Trinidad and Tobago does not readily have many ‘safe spaces’ available to youth, however, UWI should take this time to become a model institution and set the standard.
The Trinidad Youth Council insists that a solution is developed to drastically minimize the risk of crime and attack on students at the campus.