News Releases

UWI Responds on Renaming of Milner Hall

For Release Upon Receipt - December 15, 2017

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) St. Augustine Campus has recently held internal consultations over the renaming of the Milner Hall. The consultations, which have continued following a decision by the University’s Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) that the name should in fact be changed, have included students, particularly residents of Milner Hall; alumni and members of staff. The meetings were chaired by Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education, Dr Heather Cateau.

Mr. Shabaka Kambon, who is affiliated with the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project (Rhodes Must Fall Caribbean) has attended both consultations at the Campus which were lively debates on the issue. While students expressed strong and diverse views on the matter, as is fully encouraged in our academic environment, Mr. Kambon’s tone at the first consultation was belligerent and disruptive. Following the meeting, social media content of a disparaging nature was posted about a student representative of The UWI.

At the second consultation, Professor Copeland asked Mr. Kambon whether he had removed his social media posts attacking a student (who had contributed at the first consultation defaming and misrepresenting him as a defender of slavery, colonialism and imperialism to the point of cyber-bullying), after receipt of a formal Cease and Desist legal demand from the University. The letter demanded that Mr. Kambon and his colleagues “immediately cease and desist your unlawful posting of videos, photographs and comments on your Facebook page in relation to the renaming of The UWl’s Milner Hall of Residence and desist from any other infringement of our rights in the future. Furthermore, we request the immediate removal of video links, photographs and comments currently on your Facebook page in relation to our employees and students, which defame and misrepresent their views.” 

Mr. Kambon’s responded that he had not in fact removed the posts and advised that Professor Copeland consult his (Kambon’s) legal advisors. Professor Copeland responded “The University’s legal department has asked you to remove the social media posts which are bullying my students. I consider my students as my children.” He further lamented Mr. Kambon’s harassment and intimidation of the students.  Shortly after Professor Copeland disallowed Mr. Kambon to make any further comments, he began to protest, and eventually the security asked him to leave the meeting. Mr. Kambon was not evicted from The UWI’s compound and, indeed, was seen in the vicinity of the venue when the meeting closed.

The University of the West Indies is committed to, and sees itself as a champion of the democratic values of freedom of speech and expression. To this end as an actively engaged academy it provides fora for discussion of issues that are controversial and at times divisive. In order to enable the sustainability of this culture of engagement it requires that respect be shown to its cherished values by all participants. The preservation of freedoms requires tolerance and flexibility, and when breached requires corrective action. All are welcomed to engage, but none is entitled to disrupt and offend. The University, like other instructions in the society, is engaged in reflection upon its past and is formulating policy changes in respect of this historic and colonial legacy. It is understood that ideological and emotion contestations are endemic. However, only an orderly and respectful process can secure the sustainable outcomes expected. The UWI therefore wishes to take this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to open access by all while insisting upon collegial conduct as the standard.

To date the offending social media posts remain published.


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)