Categorized | National News

COB Bust-Up- President Runs For Safety

The president of the College of The Bahamas (COB) found herself running to her office for safety yesterday after scores of disgruntled students, angry over planned fee hikes, chased her out of an office building.

Betsy Vogel-Boze tried to leave the boardroom of the Michael Eldon Complex following a news conference, but found herself surrounded by angry students who refused to let her out of the building unless she spoke to them.

However, with four security officers surrounding her, the president forced her way through the crowd, down the stairs and out the building where the chase began.

Dashing across the street with security, the mob chased the president into her office where they gathered outside her door and began chanting, “We ain’t payin’.”

During the pushing and shoving, JCN cameraman, James Bannister suffered a bloody head injury.

Shortly before the chase, COB College Council Chairman Alfred Sears was surrounded by the same students while trying to leave the boardroom.

In a much more peaceful manner, the students spoke with the chairman who tried to further explain to them the reasoning behind the increased fees.

During the news conference Mr. Sears explained that while the students may be upset at the increase, it is the college that is in fact carrying the majority of the load.

“What COB is faced with is what state universities in the U.S. and the Caribbean are all faced with,” he said.

“As governments are challenged, we have to look for new streams of revenue to help sustain the college, particularly seeing that we wish to reach university status by 2015.”

According to Mr. Sears, the subvention cuts have caused the college council to reduce its $46 million budget by a little over $2 million.

President Vogel-Boze noted that aside from the increase in fees for students, the college is also carrying out a number of other cost-effective measures.

“We will be cutting our travels down by 40 per cent as well as our food by 50 per cent. We seek to reduce our utilities bill, primarily electricity by 10 per cent. We hope to save some of our money in rent by not renewing our leases for off campus properties.

“Several of the recommendations are for increasing revenues and several of them include leaving vacant positions unfilled.”
The president assured students that the decision to not fill vacancies, which include faculty positions, will not affect the quality of education.

She also promised that there will be no layoffs as a result of the budget cuts.

“Among our revenue enhancements are increased facilities rental and pricing to incentivise those. We plan to increase our automatic teller machines and the fees generated from those,” she said.

“We also plan to sell cellular top up services in our bookstore and our business office. We plan on moving all our revenue generating entities to self-sustainability and eventually to revenue generation.”

In terms of parking, which most students are in uproar about, Mrs. Vogel-Boze said that students who require parking will pay the fee and will be given a decal to place on their cars.

In addition, she said the council is seeking ways to upgrade and expand the limited parking facility available.

In a press statement yesterday evening the College of The Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS) noted that it has been faced with a myriad of issues recently, particularly in regards to increased fees and tuition.

“Members have attempted to address these issues in a diplomatic fashion with requests for meetings and information ignored by all entities, specifically the College Council who has introduced & passed several fee increases effective immediately,” the student union said.

“Due to the lack of communication and inclusion, members of the union sought to speak to council members, including COB’s president. However, these attempts were not successful. Thus students’ disappointment and frustration became magnified. Though [tensions] ran high students did not resort to behavior which threatened the personal safety of any individual, despite reports to the contrary.”

“We hope that the council revisits its recent decision regarding non-tuition fees. We also await word from the government to meet on this and other matters,” COBUS said.

Mr. Sears told the students that the college is seeking more scholarships to assist students in paying their tuition and fees.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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