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.

UWI MONA MAIN GATE

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

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Conflict Of Interest #3: Should An Unmarried Christian Buy Condoms?

It is well known that having unprotected sex often leads to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. It is also well known that premarital sex is a sin, so for a Christian abstinence is the default setting that should be employed to avoid the aforementioned consequences. Unfortunately, many of us Christians are tapping the well before talking to Jesus, riding the horse before saddling up, sailing the sea before buying the ship. Only God knows how weak we men are, when women ostentatiously display the flesh before our very eyes. So, considering this weakness, should a Christian make preparations? for the cumming. Does buying a condom make you more likely to sin, even if it was not your intention, provided the risks are minimized? It is better to be safe than sorry, when it rains it is better to be covered than exposed.

Condom Bible

Here is my story

It was years ago, long before rainbows filled the Facebook pages, long before Obama greeted the massive, before I knew how to shop for food, I was shopping at UWI’s HILO branch. Yes, HILO, where the prices are high, and the quality is low. I was getting ready to check out when I looked to the left and I saw a variety of condoms. Immediately I thought to myself that I should get a few to save for a rainy day. But there is something very special about our conscience, and conflict of interests will evoke emotions when the conscience is at work. So I looked around to ensure the coast was clear, the store was almost empty, so I picked up a extra large Rider. I hid it in the midst of my groceries then turned around, HILO was full. I didn’t know where all those customers came from but all I could think about at that time was, ‘I have boots in my cart’. I was the last person in line at the check out, three persons in total. This never happened before or after, but every second there was a problem, “void transaction”, so I was waiting there a lot longer than I wanted. To my frustration more customers joined the line. At that point I knew exactly how it feels to smuggle drugs, I just wanted to check out and be on my way. after several interruptions, it was finally my turn to check out. I placed the items on the counter, boots, craftily concealed. The cashier was however moving very slowly and there was something mysterious about the feel of the environment. At this moment a church brother of mine walked in, gave a gentle wave and a smile. Many heartbeats were skipped on that day. I waved back while faking a smile, a very guilty smile. The cashier took up the pack of condoms, so slowly that I wanted to just shout! She looked at it, then at me, then at it, then scanned it. At this moment everyone was staring at me, or so it felt. Quite possibly, they were all minding their own businesses, it was just my conscience. She then left it exposed to open eyes but I hastily bagged it, with my head held down. I left the store with cold sweat running down my face, but I did it! The farmer now had his tools, will he plant a seed?

I know premarital sex is wrong, that is why a simple transaction was that tedious for me. It is better to avoid and wait for the right time.

Men, where it regards a relationship, put a ring in it before you put your ding in it.

What are your views?

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Conflict Of Interest #2: A Stranger Sends You Credit Accidentally.

Today I received $200 credit from a number I couldn’t recognize. With a pleased countenance I tried to figure out who it was that made my day. I didn’t want to call and say ‘Who is this?’ as that may be offensive if it really was a friend.
image

The person called, I answered, but before I could say thank you, the caller said ‘Never mind, wrong number.’ and hung up. Later I tried calling, no answer.  She returned the call tonight and I told her she sent a message to me erroneously. She Said ‘okay’, then hung up. I think that justifies me keeping the credit, don’t you think? Well I wanted to return it, but based on her response, I don’t think she cares. I still feel a little awkward so if I’m going to keep it, you are all going down with me. I will send $25 to the first three (3) persons who  comment.

 

– Aldeam Facey 2015

The Best Place To Buy Food At The UWI Mona Campus

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, is the largest and most recognized tertiary institution in Jamaica. The campus accommodates thousands of local and international students of varying cultural backgrounds. It becomes quite necessary for the university to provide many dining options to facilitate the students’ diverse  palate.

It is very hard to find a place to purchase food that is easy on the pocket, great tasting, and has fast customer service. In most cases you have to choose two of the three options. Below are a list of the places you can purchase cooked food on campus and their raking. The list below is very subjective and is completely based on my personal experiences. The prices, menus and service stated are subject to change at the discretion of the business.

1. Yao UWI

DSC_0117_1DSC_0118 2

Yes, Yao UWI branch is still in business, unbelievable?…..believe it! In my opinion this is the worst tasting food you can buy on campus. This is not an attempt to degrade the quality of food Yao, the Chinese fast food franchise provides, as its Sovereign branch makes a superb sweet and sour chicken that not only keeps me coming back for more, but is one of the reasons I am not a vegetarian as yet. If you are accustomed to the Sovereign branch, do not expect the same quality at the UWI branch, you will be disappointed. I am not the only one who has experienced this, but after eating at Yao UWI, I feel really really bloated. The good thing about Yao UWI is their fast service, and cost. A small meal cost $300 and they really pack your box! At Yao, you never have to wait very long.

Yao UWI 5/10

2. The Spot

Comparatively speaking, Yao sells more for less when compared to their neighbors, The Spot. The Spot, however sells way better tasting, Jamaican food in a comfortable environment designed to entertain. With a pool table, flat screen TV, slushes and alcoholic beverages, this restaurant truly hits, ‘the spot’. Waiting time is not optimized especially when serving a lot of customers, but the environment compensates for this inconvenience.

The Spot 7/10

3. Social Welfare 

Immediately across from the health center, lies a secret most students don’t know. But those who do, more often than not give great reviews. The food (Jamaican) tastes very pleasing in a nice, closed, quiet environment. The price, though not the best for the quantity, does not put a politician in your pocket.

Social Welfare 6.5/10

4. Mae’s Cafeteria

The food isn’t very good, but the price is quite affordable. Attached to the Mary Seacole Hall, a nice environment and low waiting times the only real complaint I have is the food, which is the most important. I do not recommend Mae’s Cafeteria.

Mae’s Cafeteria 5/10

5. Bee Hive

Bee Hive

One of the most popular places to buy quality cooked Jamaican food on campus. Opening at 7 with a diverse breakfast menu what anyone can afford, Bee Hive is thriving. You can buy fried dumplings in the morning and if you cannot afford the stewed chicken which cost $220 then you can have your dumplings with gravy for just an extra $20. With a friendly staff, Bee Hive ensures that everyone is satisfied. The biggest disadvantage with this restaurant is the waiting time. At about mid-day the waiting line may extend beyond the honey comb and the wait is very long. The price for a small meal is $340 and they tend to offer free fried dumplings in your meals to ensure nothing gets wasted. They also cater for vegetarians, offering meatless meals daily.

campus food (4)

Bee Hive 7.3/10

6. Page’s Cafe

Pages Cafe is the most upscale place to buy food on campus. With their ‘Gourmet Thursdays’ often featuring grilled salmon and their unique daily menus, it is the spot for UWI staff members. The cost of each meal, however, is nothing to smile about. Quality food, but less than acceptable customer service and high prices kicks Pages out of the book for the number 1 spot.

Pages Cafe 6.9/10

7. Juicy Patties

Juicy patties

Juicy is the most popular fast food franchise on campus. It is the number one choice for most students because the meals are not costly. The food sold for lunch are not very substantial but there is a lot from which you may choose. Juicy Patties offer an excellent breakfast menu including fritters, porridges, fried and cooked dumplings, chicken, callaloo and the best steamed fish you can buy on campus. Due to high demands, the restaurant has been optimized for fast service.

Juicy Patties 7.5/10

8. Bucks

Bucks

A fresh look and a new name for the cafeteria located right beside the UWI maintenance department. In my experience their only limitation is their ridiculously long waiting times. In time, I trust this will be resolved, but for now:

Bucks 6/10

9. KFC

KFC – No good. The prices and the waiting times are the primary disadvantages of this franchise. The food is okay, if you like KFC. But there isn’t anything else I can positively say about it.

Everybody does it better.

KFC 5.5/10

10. The best place to buy cooked food on campus

Very recently I was introduced to this place by a friend. After trying it out, deciding which place was the best place to buy food on campus was easy as ABC. Yes, ABC Hall cafeteria, in my view, hits the spot. great tasting food, very affordable and very quick customer service. Many persons do not know this place exists as it is so far from the general campus population, but it is totally worth the walk. a small meal cost $290 and they do not hold back on the quantity. If you are able to close the box of food you receive, then return to Life of a Jamaican, for a full refund.

campus food (3)

campus food (2)
I dare you to close it.

ABC Cafeteria 8/10

Honorable Mention

A.Z Preston Hall Cafeteria and Taylor Hall Cafeteria. Both are very affordable, food tastes pleasing and very low waiting times. Limited by their location.

Both 6.5/10

Dukkuno Deli, located along the Ring Road just across from Mona school of business, offers pizza, salads, burgers and special drinks such as the ‘Mochaccino’ which is a coffee-chocolate blend. The prices are very high so only a select few make the Deli their daily choice.

Dukkuno Deli 6.5/10

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Interdenominational Relationships: Can They Work?

When I was young, I had many interactions with young ladies of differing denominations, though extremely shy. But that was then, back in the days when I was a little handsome, when my charm preceded my corny wit, when I had many reasons to smile, when all was well with the world.

Then, I was very strong, I did not take advantage of the many opportunities that presented themselves, I was a fairly good ‘youte’. I was getting old and I thought it was time to find a close association with a female, just one female, the way it is supposed to be. I approached who would become my very first girlfriend. I was Seventh Day Adventist, she was a Sunday worshiper. We had many discussions about religion, the day we should set aside for holy time, what not eat and many more. Though we disagreed on many topics we had a good relationship, one that did not violate any commands. I am not sure why we parted but we did. We are friends now.

It is very interesting to note that my ex stopped eating pork
It is very interesting to note that my ex stopped eating pork

The primary difference between the Seventh day Adventist group and the other denominations is that we believe in the Sabbath day. When God made the world he rested on the 7th day which is Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. He blessed the day and set it aside for rest and worship. This commandment includes the household as even your servants are required to rest. Read Exodus 20: 8-11.

My next relationship started years later with a young lady affiliated with the Apostolic group and Jah know star, ashalama shalama shalama! We had a very interesting relationship. Firstly I must say that she was hands down the sexiest woman I had ever seen! Neglecting the fact that she had more curves that the Bog Walk Gorge, while with her my eyes never strayed. I was completely satisfied with her and her happiness was my primary concern. Our entire relationship was one single conversation, that never ended. quite possibly, we were too attached to each other, but I didn’t mind. I’m not an emotional guy, a macho beast is expressed in my phenotype and genotype, but I can honestly say I was deeply in love with this one. I believed we would eventually get married as we had no significant problems. We discussed differences in religion and I must say she was coming around to the truth but wanted to avoid what she called ‘apostasy’. The most significant issue was whether to raise our children as Adventist or wrong otherwise. I was so serious about that relationship that I had a discussion with my pastor regarding my intention to marry this lady one day. That’s when I found out Seventh day Adventist pastors cannot marry interdenominational couples.
Long story extremely short, we parted for a reason that had nothing to do with religious beliefs.

I thereafter I found that most of the women I date are not Adventist and in all cases, though very brief the interactions, we never had a significant problem with beliefs. I’ve only dated a few Adventists, awesome ladies, but again they never worked.

There is the question of whether or not you and an interdenominational partner are “equally yoked”. Obviously, where beliefs are concerned you would not be, but the same may be true for a partner who is of the same denominational group! If your partner is not pulling you away from your faith in any way, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. Remember, the possibility exist that your wife or husband of the same denomination can change their beliefs post marriage. Is that enough reason for an annulment?  One must consider that differences in beliefs vary even to the individual level.

Conclusion

Though variety is the spice of life, the basis of any relationship is common ground. As such it is better to be with someone with whom you share similar beliefs. My advice would be for you to aim for a relationship with an individual who shares your beliefs. However, happiness is a critical relationship trait that must be satisfied. What if no one with whom you share the same belief makes you happy? What if no one is interested or available? If happiness can only be found elsewhere and you are able to live with differences in beliefs, then by all means, pursue happiness.
An interdenominational relationship can work, but it requires more work.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Conflict of Interest #1: Sitting Beside A Smelly Person In Church

Psalms  1:1  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

The Church is a public place, doors open to all, but as with all public places one must be considerate of others especially where personal hygiene is considered.

smelly

So I was in church yesterday, yes, on the Sabbath day, the day set aside for rest and worship. Shortly after my arrival a gentlemen came in, apparently I was sitting in his seat. I moved aside and allowed him to reclaim his throne. He seemed to be a great guy, very interested in the word. Unfortunately he did not appear to be of perfectly sound mind – but hey, who is? My problem was that his smell was very… very strong and I was not pleased with it. I am not one to scorn a fellow and the whole aim of a Christian is to be more like Christ daily. Jesus interacted with everyone, not once is there a record of Him discriminating. But it was hard for me to sing a note or to recite a scripture. I felt as though I was suffocating. For the duration of the service I breathed out much more than I breathed in, or so it would appear. The smell stained the back of my throat, I could not even swallow my own saliva. I watched as he aggressively took care of the itch on his testicles, flinched as he raised his arm, moved to the right as he moved to the right, to the left as he moved to the left.  I didn’t want to say anything as he may be offended and I did not at the moment have the resources to provide any assistance. Quite possibly he could not have done anything about it, it’s just his situation and without help it may just be unavoidable.

I sat beside him, suffering in silence until the end of the service. What would you do?

– Aldeam Facey 2015