April 2011

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New Guild President sets agenda


It had seemed that Hillan Morean was president for life, given how many cohorts of students have entered and graduated during his tenure at the helm of the Guild of Students. So, many might have thought it an April Fool’s joke when the new President, Amilcar Peter Sanatan, was sworn in on April 1, 2011. But for Amilcar, this is no joke. Rather, it was high time that the Guild too, walked the road that the rest of the world has been taking with regard to changing regimes.

He intends to pursue constitutional reform to limit terms of office to no more than two consecutively, as he believes that no matter how good one is, too long is simply too long.

Born in 1989, Amilcar is a final-year student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, where he is in his final semester of his Psychology major (with a Sociology minor) and he has proposed a thesis – Sex and Sexuality in Rastafari – for the M.Phil he plans to pursue next.

Chatting about his areas of study, he said he had never wanted to rush into a career path from too early, and avoided being “streamed” into conventional groupings. So he did French, History and Management of Business at CAPE, and then while at UWI, has sat in on Literature and Gender studies classes. His mother is the Deputy Campus Librarian, Linda De Four, and his father, Roderick Sanatan, just retired from the Mona Campus, where he lectured in Communications and Development. Together, he says, they instilled a sense of the broadness and value of education that had little to do with the process of “certification” that many of his contemporaries are accused of being too focused upon.

His time at The UWI has seen him involved in U.We Speak, the advocacy group that is involved with the Creative Arts (they host Open Mic), and he was a co-founder of U.We TV. Since Year One, he says, he has always been in a space where the issues and concerns of students have been voiced. Given his obvious penchant for the limelight, it seemed natural for him to run for President.

He thinks the Guild can be an ideal place to generate a new kind of student life; one that is more collaborative with the administration; that sees student-staff relations broaden into “one where we can fully appreciate each other as fellow human beings,” and that can adapt to the “different leadership style which will form the identity of the Guild.”

He also believes that the Guild’s presence is too low-keyed and intends to lift its profile with a Know Your Guild campaign soon.

Two days after being sworn in, he delivered a cyber address thanking students for their support and outlining what he termed the key elements on the new council’s agenda.

Security, unsurprisingly, was the first item, and this was followed by “mainstreaming gender,” a project he identified as being a major part of his campaign platform. He views the students as a microcosm of the society and felt that the same patterns of behavior and the same attitudes to women apply. Wherever there are groupings, he says, “men are more inclined to power and women more inclined to the work.” He feels that leadership positions continue to be gender biased in that regard.

Third on his agenda was promoting “more green ways,” that is, more environmentally sound practices, including cutting down on paper use, though he said he was a little wary of advocating an entirely digitized lifestyle. He also promised a student press for the new academic year.

“We will bridge communication gaps and archive our events using high quality production technologies, then share the information freely through our new media – Facebook, Blackberry messages, Blogs, etc.” he wrote, suggesting that all wariness aside, he understands the mechanisms for modern communications.

The final and perhaps grandest of his goals is what he gathered under the heading, The Voice of the Students: “As we work with the relevant Guild committees, we will guarantee the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, the Caribbean region, an intellectual presence that facilitates a forum for ideas beyond the parameters of our campus. Our voice will facilitate more civil and intelligent discourse for all sectors of society on myriad social, cultural, political and economic issues.”

It is a rather elusive goal, as many leaders in many societies have found, but for young Sanatan, it is one worth keeping high on his agenda in these times when guns speak louder than ideas.

  • Amilcar Sanatan,
  • Kevin Ramsewak,
    Vice President;
  • Patrice Millien,
  • Darren Mitchell,
  • Runako Thornhill,
    Publications Committee Chair;
  • Kasi Smith,
    Student Activities Chair;
  • Kizzy-Anne Boatswain,
    National Affairs Committee Chair;
  • Kelsey Turpin-Carrington, International Affairs Committee Chair;
  • Akel Baig,
    Games Committee Chair;
  • Leslie Sylvester,
    Post Grad Rep;
  • Cereem Nichols,
    Science and Agriculture Rep;
  • Travis Laugier,
    Social Sciences and Law Rep;
  • Marvin Carbon,
    Engineering Representative;
  • Shaka Alexander,
    Humanities and Education Rep;
  • Deepak Ramsingh,
    Medical Sciences Rep;
  • Alvin Motley,
    Canada Hall Chair;
  • Cindy-Ann Beckles, Joyce Gibson-Inniss
    Hall Chair;
  • Dwayne Murray,
    Milner Hall Chair;
  • Tanya Boucher,
    Trinity Hall Chair;
  • Jadia Jn Pierre (temporary),
    Sir Arthur Lewis Hall Chair.