The University of The Bahamas is prominently in the news again; and this time the news is troubling. There is talk being bantered about in the undercurrents of the society that the university’s board is considering discontinuing the Northern Campus.
If this is the case, it would be a colossal mistake. It is inconceivable that the board is even considering such a thing. The idea is foolish and myopic. The Northern Campus has such great potential. Of course, for UB North to come even in the vicinity of achieving any of its potential, the stranglehold of the Nassau-centric vision of the university would have to be removed.
What is particularly troubling is the nonchalant attitude of the powers that be regarding the decimation of the university by Hurricane Dorian. There is almost complete silence on this matter. It seems not to be a grave concern for either the Minister for Grand Bahama or the Deputy Prime Minister, in whose constituency the university once existed, not a sympathetic word uttered. They appear not to understand the magnitude of the loss.
They all offer some doublespeak about the debacle of the hotel in Lucaya, but not a word about the university. The university is actually one of those low hanging fruits that we often talk about. It is within our power to do something about – now! The hotel, for the most part, is high on the tree and is in the hands of others.
My suggestion would be to bring the university downtown. Let the vibrancy of the university breathe new life into a downtown on life-support. The energy of the student body would be there. Eateries would thrive, the atmosphere would be alive and other businesses would come. Moreover, downtown is more accessible to students. The student body would increase. After all, aren’t we supposed to be thinking about the welfare and future of our children first?
I am certain that the destroyed building had insurance. Why not take that money and revitalize an existing building downtown; for example, the Kipling Building. This would breathe new life into the Freeport economy. The university can become the heartbeat of the revival.
Instead, we seem to have visionless people sitting on a board somewhere talking utter nonsense about cutting out our heart, and not a word from these elected officials. What nation that wants to thrive in this postmodern world kills its primary tertiary educational institution?
We need people to sit on these boards who believe in the Bahamas, persons who understand that when it comes to running a university, the chief concern can’t be balancing the budget. As for the President, Mr. Rodney Smith, he seems not to believe in the Bahamas anymore, if he ever did.
Let him go!
Let’s start again.
And this time, let’s be in the business of nation-building, of upholding our educational institutions, of saving are children, instead of disadvantaging them.
~ Dr. Keith A. Russell