UWI’s Lecturer Evaluations: Who Does Them?

If you are a student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, then certainly you have been receiving emails regarding your lecturer evaluations. To increase the rate of lecturer evaluations, UWI has, in the past made offers to reward lucky student evaluators. I can no longer evaluate lecturers but instead I need to sign the dreadful supervisors reports. When I did evaluations, the class representative would give us the forms to complete just before or after the professor being evaluated delivers the lecture. Now, all that is done online. Progress. However the offering of prizes and the frequency at which emails are sent encouraging students to complete evaluation forms online indicate that students are just not evaluating the lecturers.

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Why Not? Let us evaluate the reasons. 

  • Students are just not interested.

 

  • Its flogging a dead horse. Many students, myself included don’t believe any action is taken post lecturer evaluations. I remember in my first year there was a particular lecturer that we absolutely despised. The lecturer was very wicked, but I won’t get in to the details of their exploits. We were asked to evaluate said lecturer and based on the information I gathered literally everyone gave the lecturer the lowest score (1 out of 5). Others drew a circle beside the box with one and drew a zero inside before shading it. This was a little extreme but it emphasizes the students disapproval of the lecturer. I was alarmed to see just a few years later a promotion was approved for the lecturer. There were also cases where lecturers were given maximum points but have not been rewarded accordingly. Politics. So what is the purpose of these evaluations if sanctions and rewards are not issued accordingly.

 

  • Incorrect method of encouraging compliance. Each student uses the online learning environment set up by UWI. To encourage students to evaluate lecturers, they may incorporate a pop-up which forces students to complete the form before accessing their learning tools. 100% compliance guaranteed.

If these suggestions are addressed, then only improvements will results.

 

– Aldeam Facey 2016

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Ragging At UWI: Why Has It Stopped?

If you have been following this blog, you know that my opinions may not support that of the majority as I dare to be different. With that said, I agree with the concept of ragging.

When I was just about 12 years old I was afraid to enter high school because of all the stories I heard. I believed that occasionally I would be given a dollar by one of the bigger boys, to buy a patty, cocoa bread and a soft drink for him, with the expectation that I would promptly return with the items along with two dollars in change. You don’t need to be a Mathematician to know that’s not possible, but this is just one example of the terrifying norms for which I mentally and financially prepared myself. I daily left most of my lunch money at home. I was very disappointed when I got to high school and went home with all my money in my pocket. I was very disappointed that I did not have the privilege to wine one on the great ‘Puncie’. I was even more disappointed to see the poor representation of ‘Puncie’, which lacked the appropriate man-made receptacle which would give a more realistic feel to the ‘Puncie process’.

When I became a senior I didn’t want the poor new students to be tortured with the disappointment I experienced. I wanted them to have a memorable experience during their first few years of high school. What I did to assure this, is something we may discuss outside the confines of this blog.

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Now UWI

I was worried about ragging at UWI because of the terrifying stories my uncle told me regarding the induction process for Block Veteran, Irvine Hall. As such, along with other reasons I opted for off campus accommodation. I experienced no ragging, and I was isolated from the culture of the University for the first two years of my tenure. I always felt that I was missing something and I didn’t even perform as well as I could have as I didn’t feel comfortable at the University. You know, little country boy can be a real fish out of water when he comes to town, I was drowning. With the desire to become the ‘ideal UWI graduate’, I chose to reside at the mighty A.Z Preston Hall. Though a final year student, I volunteered to be ragged. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though  I was literally being ragged by my classmates.

I built a bond with the residents, both new and old, due to the ragging process, that will last a lifetime. Waking up at 5 a.m to join lines, calling older residents ‘Super Senior Sirs’, and answering to whatever name I was assigned, was totally worth it. I became a more confident person and a better leader. I also recognized that even though I was much more involved in the UWI life, my grades were much improved.

For a new student entering the University I understand it can be a little terrifying but when it is over they generally recognize the incredible impact it has on their University experience. But while ragging is ‘good’ it must be controlled. Physically harming junior students may have an effect that is contrary to the aim of the interaction.

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus has made a move to eradicate ragging during the orientation process. This will surely suffocate the spirit and vibe of the campus and I am not in agreement with that move. Controlled ragging is the best option in my view. While the orientation ragging has predominantly stopped, in block induction continues and is still quite intense in the traditional halls. It creates some serious levels of patriotism in residents. It is important to note that the University ‘presence’ of residents in these halls is quite pronounced and they become significant leaders in the Caribbean society. Unfortunately, block induction is only done in the few traditional halls on campus. I do hope this will change soon.

Let the ragging continue.

 

– Aldeam Facey (Super Senior Cat) 2016

Hall Names at the University of the West Indies: A Quick Look

It has been four years since I left the prosperous A.Z Preston Hall and there I was, walking around the campus, minding my own business, viewing the young girls as they pass by in short shorts and purchased hair when out of nowhere, “CAT…CAT”. Without hesitation I turned around “Waa gwaan boss”. It was a name I identified, a name I embraced proudly, despite its meaning. ‘Cat’ is my hall name, most persons I lived in hall with, don’t know my name but will never forget ‘Cat’, ‘Puss’, and the vast array of variations thereof.

During orientation periods seniors in hall, along with Resident Advisors create programs to assist new students to become ‘acclimatized’ to the university space and to develop beneficial interpersonal relationships. During the orientation process, new students are assigned new names. Names which symbolize a new beginning, and the opportunity they are given to be whomever they want. These names are usually based of a feature that defines the student (past experience, physical attribute, personality trait etc). They are usually made after a series of questionings by the seniors and are usually meant to be funny or embarrassing. This makes it much easier to remember persons’ names. It is a tradition for seniors not to mention the meaning of their names and names which are apparently really nice may actually have really awful meanings.

Let us look at some examples

I met a strange character from Chancellor Hall who goes by the name Nyamio.

There is a young lady from Rex called FD (foundation Course). Is there anyone on campus who has never done a foundation course? Can you guess the meaning of her name?

A student was asked to lick the pubic area of a statue, he was called Chawclit.

There is a young lady called N.E.R.D -‘For I have Never Ever Received a D*#K’.

A young man called Pinky – ‘For I can only tickle’.

A young lady called Brains – ‘For Pinky takes over my world when he tickles me’

Other names include

Tampon

Pole

Flash

Vex

Parunga

Obama

Plough

Shy

List goes on…

Hall names at times become so meaningful that it is embraced decades later and may even be the preferred name for general us. Dr.Knife? So what are your thought? Do you agree with the naming process? Do you have a hall name? tell me the name and meaning in the comment section below.

 

– Aldeam Facey 2016

 

 

The Best Hall To Live In At The UWI Mona Campus

Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus offered ten (10) unique halls of residence to students. Being a full-time, apparently life long UWI student, I have had the opportunity to reside in a number of these halls. In no particular order, I have resided in the AZ Preston Hall, Elsa Leo Rhyne Hall, Marlene Hamilton Hall and the new hall by 138 student living (Leslie Robinson Hall). I have also spent many nights in the other halls so I am very familiar with the offerings of each. Each hall selects unique colors, animals or symbols to identify themselves and they compete in various activities throughout the school year. Residents of each hall are acculturated to believe their hall is the best place to live. It is this belief that gives rise to strong rivalry.

The UWI tries to accommodate as much persons in campus as is possible. This is not just for security but living in hall makes facilitating student’s development a lot easier. Programs are implemented in hall which allows students to grow as leaders, they encourage networking and make the UWI experience so much more enjoyable. Having activities outside of the class room not only guarantees the maintenance of sanity but encourages better academic performance. Now with over 16000 students at the university and just under 3000 rooms available, there must be a way to filter students so that those who would be most beneficial to the hall are given the opportunity to reside in the hall. With such a privilege students are usually expected to support the hall’s activities in order to be offered a room for the following school year. But which hall is the absolute best hall to live in at the UWI campus? I will try to be as objective as I can as I describe the features of each hall below.

ABC (Alston Barry Chevannes) Hall
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At only 5 years old ABC Hall is among the newer halls. It is an old nurses residence which now boasts the best place to buy food on campus. Like the newer halls the residents are placed on floors based on gender. Each resident has a room and members of the floor share a kitchen and bathroom.

The hall is making small strides where popularity is concerned but still has a long way to go. The hall is the furthest from the most frequently visited places on campus as it is the only hall on the hospital compound. They are actively competing in sporting events but so far have not distinguished themselves as beating them is usually as easy as… ABC?

The hall colors are orange and grey

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

ABC (all single rooms) = $214,120

ABC

AZ Preston Hall

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The AZ Preston Hall was established in 1995. The motto for the hall is; ‘relentless pursuit of excellence’.
By far AZ Preston Hall is the most visually appealing hall in campus. The well groomed landscape and brilliant design of  the buildings makes the atmosphere feel like living in a villa or hotel. Residents are very friendly and never fail to greet each other. The hall conveys a culture of togetherness and the warm spirit of the sharks really take a bite out of the stressful life at school.

The hall is separated into 13 clusters, each having approximately 25 residents. Each cluster is again separated into 4 households. A kitchen and dining area is shared among 6 or 7 residents. There is a complete bathroom downstairs in each household and a toilet upstairs. Each room also has a face basin inside. A feature unique to AZ Preston hall. The 13 clusters are separated into 4 zones for in hall competition with each zone having its own color and chants. The hall is known to be among the most vibrant, with good support and creative hall songs.

The hall symbol is a shark and the color is purple.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

Single rooms = $220,480

Double rooms = $186,030

See images below:

AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (1)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (5)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (6)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (3)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (10)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (2)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (4)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (7)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (9)AZ Preston - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (8)

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Chancellor Hall

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Chancellor Hall is the all male brother hall of the all female Mary Seacole Hall. Chancellor Hall is one of the traditional halls and though the population is very small, their presence is felt around the entire campus.

The residents of Chancellor Hall are generally conceited and use very aggressive approach to attract female students. They strongly endorse heterosexuality while they refuse to accept openly effeminate males.

The hall is separated into blocks each block has a kitchen and bathroom which are shared among the 38 members of that block. Like all the traditional halls, first year students are exposed to block induction which allows them to be accepted into the brotherhood.

The hall symbol is a lion and the hall colors are black and gold.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

All single rooms = $202,990

Block X = $269,240

See images below:

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Chancellor 1Chancellor 2

Elsa Leo Rhynie(Towers) Hall

Towers hall opened its doors in 2012 and is already a force with which other halls struggle to contend. The halls vibrant spirit and aggressive competitiveness is a direct result of the effort of the hall’s administration.

The hall is composed of 5 towers each having 5 floors and 23 residents for each floor. Each floor has 2 large bathrooms and 1 kitchen with dining area. Though each resident gets their own room, integration is certainly needed at the Towers hall.

 

The hall symbol is a wolf and the color is red

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

Single rooms = $247,510

Double rooms = $210,410

See images below:

Towers 3Towers 1Towers 2Towers 4

Irvine Hall
Motto: ‘Know thyself’
Irving Hall is the oldest hall in campus currently, and may be on its way to retirement. The hall is named after the chairman of the founding committee of the University and was built in 1950.

The hall is composed of 7 blocks, housing 280 residents and is the only hall with a hall way (spine) running through the entrance of each block. each block has a kitchen and 2 bathrooms , shared among residents of the block. Both males and females are able to rent shared or single rooms.

The hall is well known to be very boring where competitiveness is concerned. Though the home to many top athletes, the hall fails to gather representative support for most events. The hall is however known for its strict block induction process.

The hall symbol is a torch and the hall colors are green and yellow

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

Single rooms = $202,990

Double rooms = $171,720

See image below:

Irvine 1

Marlene Hamilton Hall (‘Post grad’)

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Marlene Hamilton is most often called ‘postgrad’ simply because it was initially built to accommodate graduate students. The hall opened in 2012,when I just became a graduate of the UWI. They started accepting just about anyone who was willing to pay as the cost was a deterrent for most graduate students. The hall is composed of 4 six storey blocks, each having a maximum capacity of 100 residents.

When I lived in this hall I didn’t even know my neighbor’s name. I assumed it was a female based on the sounds I heard coming from her room as she made the beast with two backs roar. There was no culture in hall, just total solitude. It could be compared to renting an apartment off campus in a gated community. This may be fine for graduate students, but if undergraduates are living there as well, they may not have the opportunity to develop the qualities that defines a UWI graduate.

A recent move has seen the implementation of an attempt to encourage student development. To date the hall has no symbol or color.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

Studio = $39,600 Per Month. With A/C $64,600 Per Month

Super Studio = $44,600 Per Month. With A/C $76,400 Per Month

See images below:

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Mary Seacole Hall

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Mary Seacole Hall is the only all female hall on campus. It is one of the traditional halls and it opened in 1958. This hall is the sister hall to the all male Chancellor hall.

Mary Seacole hall has the highest level of security of all the halls in campus. It is often times refered to as ‘the prison’. The hall has a large concentration of christian girls and it is quite clear that the hall supports the conservative lifestyle.

The hall symbol is whatever happens when a pelican mates with a duck. They call it a ‘peliduck’. The hall colors are black and white

The total accommodation fee for 2015-2016 is:

Single rooms = $202,990

Double rooms = $171,720

See images below:

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Behind these prison walls…

Rex Nettleford Hall

Rex Nettleford Hall, the largest hall in campus, occupies almost 800 students. The hall opened in 2002. It’s hard to think that just over a decade ago Rex Nettleford hall was the new kid on the block. So many halls have been erect since then, that UWI is now an impregnable fortress of student housing.

The hall is divided among 8 clusters each occupying approximately 94 students. Despite having the largest number of students, Rex’s involvement in inter-hall activities is mediocre. They are seldom able to gather enough support and the competitive spirit often observed in the traditional halls is lacking.

Rex Nettleford hall is very liberal and accepts just about everyone. Students of differing cultural backgrounds can live there comfortably without the feeling of discrimination. (You guys know exactly what I mean here.)

The hall symbol is a T-rex and their colors are maroon and gold.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

All single rooms = $240,620

See images below:

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Taylor Hall

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Taylor hall, named after the first principal, opened in 1953 and still stands strong today. Taylor hall is known for its aggression and sporting excellence. The residents adapt a culture which makes them more assertive, bold yet fully adapted to communal living. The hall because of its relaxed rules, squatting and raw vibe, is often referred to as the’ghetto hall’. “It is alleged that Taylor hall isn’t actually a hall at all, given it’s residents are sleeping on walls, in desperate need if beds.” Rephrased words of a popular hall song, with the best rendition coming from the AZ Preston hall.

Each male is offered a single room while females are offered double rooms. The hall has a flat attached where senior female Taylorites my rent single rooms, of course at a much higher cost. There are 3 female blocks called Excellencia, Falconia and Galaxia respectively. Conversely there are 4 male blocks called Stallion Republic, Butchers, Roosters and Attica. Each block has a bathroom and a kitchen which is shared by the entire block.

The hall symbol is a pelican and their color is blue.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

Single rooms = $202,990

Double rooms = $171,720

See images below:

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Taylor 1Taylor 2

The New Leslie Robinson Hall

Just a few months old and the Leslie Robinson Hall has achieved much popularity. With a predominantly regional cohort, the Leslie Robinson Hall possesses the most substantial mixture of cultural diversity.

The hall, being new does not yet have a defined culture, but it is alleged that the spirit and uniqueness of the Leslie Robinson Hall, will rise from nothing, dust, ash, to dominate the entire UWI Mona campus. We will be observing the development as time progresses.

Each 6 floor block of the hall accommodates 144 students. Each floor has 2 flats parallel to each other, each being a duplicate of the other.  A flat accommodates 12 residents, each having their own room and bathroom. The kitchen and ‘common’ areas are shared among the 12 residents. The ‘common’ area has dining tables, chairs, couches, ceiling fans and cable television! Each room is equip with its own mini fridge.

Another very unique  feature of the hall is the laundry room, operated by an outsourced company which offers much more services in comparison to all the other halls. You may book a wash load using whatsapp and you are also notified of a completed wash using the same medium. Their popular VIP service allows you to pay for a wash, simply leave your dirty clothes and pick up your clean,folded clothes later. They also offer ironing services at a cost. While these services are great, they are not cheapest available.

The total accommodation fee for 2016-2017 is:

All single rooms = $50,560 Per Month (or USD 395)

See images below:

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Each hall is unique and while the ideal hall doesn’t currently exist, the best hall to live in may be a little subjective. It depends on your persona and the type of experience and development you want to achieve from your experience at the UWI Campus.

I am granting you the opportunity to participate in the selection. Vote below for the hall you believe is the best hall to live in based on infrastructure, opportunities, networking and the development programs offered.

The Leslie Robinson Hall by 138 Student living

Under construction, scheduled to be opened in August.

Single Rooms = $50,560 Per Month (or USD 395)

Double Rooms = $35,200 Per Month (or USD 275)

 

– Aldeam Facey 2015

 

Art On Campus: UWI Mona

Paintings, sculptures and other art works found at the UWI Mona Campus. This post may be updated periodically.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Transactions At The University Of The West Indies, Mona – A Postgraduate Student’s Point Of View

The Mphil/PhD programs at the University of the West Indies are research based programs which demand a lot of time and resources. Tuition is usually covered in exchange for work done at the associated departments. This work includes tutoring or demonstrating laboratory exercises. Candidates are usually offered a stipend paid in quarterly installments. On paper the grass seems very green and the program is expected to run smoothly but of course this seldom, if ever occurs.

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Where it regards payments of stipend, in my experience, it is always late, even up to two months late. While this is inconvenient that is not my primary issue with the program and I am very grateful for the opportunity to research, publish and expose the University to the competitive international world of education.

Provided that the programs are research based, it is not possible to define specifically when one will be finished. Mphil students are given up to three years to complete the program after which they can upgrade to the PhD program or graduate with an Mphil degree. It is possible, if the resources are available, to complete long before the given period, but more often than  not, based on my observations, that is not the case. There are occasionally very successful students who are able to complete the program within the proposed time frame for example Peter Nelson, who graduated last year with a PhD in Chemistry at age twenty-five.
The research projects may be funded by independent sponsors, the program supervisor who may have enough resources, or the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. I completed the Mphil program long before the proposed time frame, partially because I had to fund aspects of the study myself. I upgraded to the PhD program and received a grant from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. In order to access the funds, one has to make request by filling out a purchase requisition form, have it signed by the head of department and attaching proof of grant received (usually a letter which states the details of the grant) along with pro forma invoices for the items requested. This is then sent to the bursary there the ‘Purchases’ section generates a purchase order. A cheque is sent to the company selling the item, who will then ship it to the department. The process seems very simple and one would expect to receive the items needed in just a few days. Right?… Wrong! What seems to be a simple process, quite often takes months and even years (I know of an incident where a student waited two years to receive an item!). If the item needed is critical for research, you may end up wasting months of your life just waiting, and there is nothing you can do about it.
If you are in the program for too long then the University with send letters to you, kindly asking you to leave, it doesn’t matter that they may be the reason for the delays, you just need to get out!

My personal experience
If you think of all the worst cases, chances are, I have experienced it. But I will just share my most recent case. I noticed over the years that most companies are reluctant to do business with the University, I now know the reason. They also require prepayments even if a purchase order is generated. For my clinical research project I collect blood samples and do amazing sciency stuff with it. The samples need to be stored in a freezer until they are tested. After years of storing my samples on borrowed freezers it has become necessary to move the samples to my lab. I received a grant from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research which I used  to order a freezer from Courts Jamaica Ltd. I assumed this would be an easy transaction given that it is not an international order and the University has done business with Courts many times before. The first problem I encountered was Courts refusal to deliver the freezer. They claimed that UWI owes them money and until funds are transferred, no delivery will be made. I contacted purchases and they gave a date when the payments will be made, after that date I did a routine follow up and confirmation was given that payment had been made. I checked with courts who denied this claim. After a back and forth battle I was asked to request the order again and a cheque will be prepared! Obviously UWI – PURCHASES department lied to me. I did as was told, and still no delivery has been made. If the transaction is not complete within a week I will purchase the item myself and request a refund (it may take up to a year for me to be refunded). That was one of the things I had to do to complete the Mphil project on time.
This happens too often for it to be an error. If there are any concerns with an order no one will call you to correct it. You have to make it you duty to follow up and often times stand over persons to ensure they do their jobs!

Solution?

  • In order for the University to be a first class  institution, international publications are needed. It is important that they make available significant funds to assist with research so more quality publications can be made.
  • They should never lie to students! If the funds are not available, just say so.
  • Notify individuals of issues relating to a transaction.
  • Pay the business /companies for items delivered. They would be more inclined to do business with the University.
  • Expedite the process from requisition to acquisition.
    This can maximize the postgraduate student turnover rate, publications, and eventually more students can be accepted.

Commendable effort
The University is well aware of some of these issues and is working to fix them. The University has been doing mass expansion across faculties and halls of accommodation so that it can accept more students. More students = more money. The University now has a yearly forum for investors on research days (usually in February) where additional funding for research is received.
The area of research is getting better in Jamaica and though slowly, in time we will be parallel with the developed world.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

UWI’s New Hall Requires Prepayments Two Months in Advance!

In my previous article related to the new hall by ‘138 student living’, I expressed my disappointment at the high cost of accommodation. My disappointment was further emphasized based on some information I recently received. It appears they are really serious about their business and are already screening out the poor who hastily applied without knowledge of the cost.
A very close friend of mine, who I must say is living on the other side, where the grass is greener, received her letter of acceptance earlier today. In the letter she was congratulated for being accepted after having passed the status verification process! The letter went on to state that if she wants to secure her accommodation she is required to pay 395 USD on or before the 19th of June! So, she was given 2 weeks notice to pay over 46,000 JMD and this payment is NON-REFUNDABLE!

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The company is looking out for its best interest. They want to ensure that individuals who apply and are accepted, are willing and able to pay the required rent. This may be good news for investors but a nightmare for those who were just saving towards their accommodation. They are already screening out the lower and middle class to make rooms available to society’s most elite. They are obviously looking for persons with serious cash available long in advance.
I believe, however that non-refundable payments two months in advance is quite unreasonable. I had never been required to do so when living at the Marlene Hamilton hall, AZ Preston hall or the Elsa Leo Rhynie hall and those places of residence are quite successful.

While I am not pleased with the high cost, which reminds me how far down the food chain I stand, I do hope UWI reaps the rewards of its investment.

– Aldeam Facey 2015