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:

Marlene Hamilton Hall - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (1)Marlene Hamilton Hall - www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress (3)

 

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

 

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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

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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)

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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

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

UWI’s New Hall Is Not For The Lower Class

Today I received an email from the office of the principal, asking me to apply for accommodation at the new hall of residence by the company “138 Student Living”. The new hall, currently under construction, is conveniently located just across from the students union and will be specially targeting “graduate students, medical Interns, Residents and Norman Manley Law School students.” You may take a tour of the facilities here:

http://138studentliving.com/

New Hall

After checking out the new accommodation, I figured it would be nice to live there for a while. I sent an email to the company inquiring the cost per month of this new ‘paradise’ and I promptly received a response. The figure they sent me didn’t have a lot of zeros, it had just 3 significant figures. The only problem I had with the figure presented was that the currency was not Jamaican. They don’t have faith in the strength of our Jamaican dollar to quote in such a currency as ours. Of course, the figure was US dollars. The cost per month will be 395 USD. That is currently equivalent to a butt whopping 45784.45 JMD. With that said:

Kidney For Sale!!!

Excellent condition, pees regularly indicating proper filtration. 70 years warranty! No refund no exchange!

The University of the West Indies has always had a problem accommodating the thousands of students applying to live on halls. Most of the campus community are commuters so increased on-campus accommodation is always welcomed. Finding residence within close proximity to the campus can be challenging. I often see students walking around communities such as Mona, asking for a place to rent. Does this new hall solve the problem? I don’t think it is of significant aid as many students cannot afford such a high rent. The post-graduate students who can afford it, are not willing to spend all their stipend on rent alone. At the end of the email was the statement “Your University, providing first world living for first class students. We look forward to hearing from you.” Replacing “first class” with “upper class” would provide a more accurate summary.

The traditional halls such as Irvine Hall are the most affordable but the University is already making plans to demolish Irving Hall to construct a larger place of residence. But what will be the cost? Are there any plans to make more affordable accommodations?

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In accessing tertiary education, tuition fee is only a half of the problem, accommodation is a significant factor. It is becoming more difficult for the poorer class to gain tertiary education.

If you see me living there next year, you may rest assured that my kidney was sold.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

UWI Examinations: An Invigilator’s point of view

I have been invigilating exams for a few years now and it has been a very interesting experience. When I was an undergraduate student I believed invigilators didn’t have much to do other than signing my receipts and ensuring I don’t cheat, but now, speaking from the point of view of an invigilator, I assure you it is a very tiring job.

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Our Purpose

So the first step is to have the exam room prepared. This involves placing receipts and other materials the students need on each desk. We then allow the students to enter the room at the appropriate time ensuring they are reminded of the items which are not allowed inside the exam center. This may be annoying for some, but every day students still attempt to enter with cell phones or various forms of paper (both not allowed). Sometimes physical searching is done as well. We then hand the question papers (which are all in sealed bags) to the students approximately five minutes before the start of the exam to allow them to look through and ensure they have the correct number of printed pages. When the exam starts we collect the receipts, sign and file the original copy. The carbon copies are returned to the students when the exam is finished. During the examination session we ensure students are comfortable while we constantly look for any irregular activities or possible cheating.

The Student’s Attitude

Almost every student wait until the last minute to enter the exam center, studying to the very last minute then rush in, having less time to relax and look through the paper. Some students don’t believe that Invigilators should search or ask them anything. This is particularly true for the law and medical students who tend to be very cranky during the exam season. Students also do not like being placed in a seat, this is especially true for the social sciences students as they want to sit where they chose, randomly. This will cause a lot of problems especially if we have a full room, without order the exam session will be chaotic. Students are seated based on arrival time and are only allowed to sit in one row (sitting from top to bottom) until it is filled, the row immediately beside it becomes available. Students should be aware that cooperation is the fastest way to get ahead as we are simply doing our jobs.


The Student’s Attire

There is no dress code for examinations and students make it so obvious that there isn’t. Most students don’t really care what they wear and that’s understandable given they may be up all night studying and have no time to get dressed. I don’t believe short dresses are appropriate for exams but that’s just me, last week there was a girl in a skirt so short, I’m sure I saw her sphincter ani externus.
When it comes to the hair I believe most students can honestly say ‘I woke up like this’. When you have to study , no time for a hair do.
But on the other hand there are well-groomed students! Well dressed young ladies with make up and a proper hair do. These are the persons who believe that if they are going to fail, then they are going to look good doing it.

Interesting Stories

Insane history

A few minutes after the start of an exam last semester a young lady doing a history course asked to use the bathroom. I accompanied her outside but noticed she was going in the wrong direction. I stopped her and she revealed her true intentions. She said she doesn’t know what to do on the paper and wants to go back to her car to study. I informed her that it is not allowed as she had already seen the question paper. She continued walking to her car while I tried to stop her. Thankfully a female security was nearby, I asked for her assistance but the student again lied saying she actually wants to use the bathroom. The security and I followed her but she whispered to me “I’m never coming out”. That would have been a real inconvenience so I informed the chief Invigilator, Dr. Hyslop. Many attempts were made to get her out of the bathroom but she would not budge. It took a while but she eventually came out telling us she is sick and needs to see the doctor, we offered to take her to the health center but she insisted on having her private doctor. We did not heed to that request. She then started crying saying her mom died. Of course we didn’t believe her. The security confidentially told me she believes the student was not totally sane. We all believed something was wrong with her. What scared me though was her threat. She slowly looked at me, the cause of her pain, and said. “Yuh betta nuh mek mi see you again or mi ago run yuh ova wid mi car!” I almost peed myself. After about an hour she was allowed to leave. I marked the color of her BMW, for my safety. She wrote nothing on the paper, surely she failed


The geographical cheater

A guy doing geography was cheating. He was successful, the exam was over. But when handing back his booklet the paper he brought into the exam (containing all the answers) fell to the ground, he had left it in the booklet! Thankfully the lecturer was there to see for himself. The student was written up, of course, he failed.

The missing page cheater

Last semester a few of us Invigilators saw a young man cheating, for verification, several of us watched as he copied the answer from a paper he brought into the exam. We told the chief and took the paper from him. He said he wrote the answer in the booklet and then tore it out but checking his booklet we found it was perfectly intact. We turned our backs a few seconds and he tried to tear a page out of his booklet to confirm his story. This irregularity was reported to examination section and of course he was allowed to make an attempt to defend himself. I did not hear the final result of his trial.

Exams are still in progress, if anything interesting happens I will update this post.

– Aldeam Facey 2015