“A university is not a primary school” – UWI SLU Open Campus head defends Dr. Tennyson Joseph

By SNO Staff

Dr. Tennyson Joseph

Head of the University of the West Indies Open Campus Saint Lucia Dr. Veronica Simon has added her voice to the ongoing debate concerning statements made by Lecturer and Political Scientist Dr. Tennyson Joseph during a lecture organised by the Open Campus recently.

Dr. Joseph had opined against what he said was the rise of business politicians, pointing to United States President Donald Trump and St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, as examples.

Chastanet in a response to Dr. Joseph’s remarks said that while he believes that the lecturer has the right to an opinion, the lecturer has been the writer of several “racist” articles and it is a surprise that he was been allowed to continue to lecture students.

“Those were some of the same things that he was saying about being a white man and all this previously. And we’ve seen several articles written by Mr. Tennyson which I think are racist, and I am really surprised that the University of the West Indies has not called him out on that and that he would continue to be allowed to teach students in that area,” Chastanet said.

However, Dr. Simon told HTS News4orce that Dr. Joseph’s comments are all in stride with the university’s goal to cultivate students who can critically examine issues and raise the level of discourse in St. Lucia.

“…And that’s what we teach students, we teach them to research, we teach them argument …This is not a healthy situation for a developing country. Here we are trying to teach students that we need to raise the level of discourse. We need to understand how discourse operates; that people have points of view that, you respect other persons’ points of view, and you can differ, but you can differ respectfully and so on… And you teach them how to debate. You can’t have a learning institution where you only teach prescribed and approved …curriculum otherwise you’re just raising a nation of sheep,” she said in Dr. Joseph’s defense.

Dr. Simon further stated, “A university is not a primary school. A university is a place of higher learning. It’s an environment of academic freedom. And when you have a tenured lecturer like Dr. Joseph he has the academic freedom to express his informed opinions, his academically informed opinions, and that’s how all universities work.”

She drew a comparison between Dr. Joseph’s statements and wrongful conclusions about coconut oil in the past, which was later debunked following research.

“That is what academic freedom is about. Now, you’ re not going to chastise the person who said it was bad for you and say well he should be fired or whatever, because he said that. That was his right as an academic to present his research as he saw it even if it has been debunked later,” Dr. Simon said.

“So if Dr. Joseph has said something that needs to be debunked, somebody else, another academic, or even the non-academic or anybody who wishes to write and speak can debunk it and say ‘well he’s not making sense because of X,Y and Z and here is my argument… I am presenting my line of logic and you can see that there is a flaw in his logic and a flaw in his argument,” she said.

She later added, “If we didn’t have people at places like universities, giving views, examining things critically, and that’s what they do, they give a critical appraisal of things as they see them from their own perspective in terms of the area of expertise, we would not have any progress in critical areas like science and medicine and social sciences and education…,” she stated.

(48)(9)
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36 comments

  1. This guys wants attention. Since the election he has not had much exposure so every now and then he comes up with a story. Be quiet and try exercising your opinion when necessary and stop being an ignorant.

    (0)(0)
  2. Radical Educator....... (Sorry to use your title sir)

    While half of you feel aggrieved on behalf of the prime minister based on the Dr. Joseph's comments. Do you know that the prime minister's view of turning the country into a "republic" is the philosophical theory of Plato the very same philosopher and philosophy that Dr. Joseph based his speech on?

    (1)(4)
  3. The PM demanding the investigation of Dr. Joseph only serves to highlight his vindictive ways. It goes to show that if he had to power to fire the good Dr he wouldn't hestitate. It goes to show that if any civil servant dare cross his path he will not think twice about victimization. He is too thinks skinned needs to toughen up.

    (5)(2)
  4. but Dr Simon herself is stating that "academic freedom" is one of the most dangerous things out there. Like what caused our cocnut oil to fall right. So she should also state the while its the way of the work to have academic freedom, we should take most of it with a grain of salt. But why would she say so. She wants us to drink he cool aid too, her academic freedom.
    Just because one has a phD doesnt mean they have the right to say anything without being held accountable. otherwise I better go get mine quick.choops
    Political leader who have been lawyers have failed over and over, in the caribbean and US. So its a new day, a day for business politicians.

    (5)(8)
  5. So what is Dr. Tenny saying , only broke crooks must enter politics .

    (5)(6)
  6. Prime Minister Chastanet must come to the realization that he cannot have it both ways. He cannot be for democracy and authoritarianism at the same time. Though he may be able to hold parallel thoughts yet the concept of authoritarianism does not coexist with democracy. Free speech in a democracy means exactly what it says "free speech." Voltaire, the French philosopher, says "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." You cannot cherry pick what you want to be heard otherwise majority rule may be perceived as majority tyranny.

    In a democracy, voting is important. No right is more fundamental than the right to vote. However, the act of voting alone does not signal the fairness of the process. Winning an election does not give you the right to create mischief, mayhem, cruelty, victimization, fear, etc. I plead to all people of good conscience to denounce the cowardly act of Prime Minister Chastanet and make the clarion call to Dr. Joseph: SPEAK PROFESSOR, SPEAK!

    (22)(4)
    • So are you saying that the KKK, Neo Nazis and white supremacists have a right to spread hate in the name of free speech?

      (2)(2)
      • From what i see the whole "free speech" thing works both ways so yes the crazy neo nazi and friends groups do have a right to say what they say however due to that same "free speech" better thinking people have a right to speak out against them. Its a double edged sword basically.

        (1)(0)
  7. Dr. Simon, I have immense respect for you but I do not think that you should have defended Dr. Joseph in this situation. UWI lecturers need to realise that students look up to them and they should not manipulate the minds of the students to think like they think.

    They should encourage debates on topics such as "Entrepreneurs can become effective presidents and prime ministers." Let students provide arguments for and against the topic as opposed to using classes for political campaigns.

    Dr. Joseph, I have great respect for you too but in this case, you are wrong. By teaching in this way, we are cultivating hate and encouraging our students to think like us. If we do so, the student will become like us and never rise to greatness.

    Dr. Joseph, I know about open discourse and free speech but I have always been able to sit in a classroom and pick up teachers who simply use their students to gain an obedient political platform. The students will not disagree openly for fear of repercussions such as failing grades or victimisation.

    Frankly, if I am paying you a salary with thousands of dollars that I spend on my child's education, UWI lecturers please use research to support your statements and stop letting your values and personal lives dictate the content being fed to my child.

    This is the reason why there are very few publications from many "seasoned" UWI lecturers. Many have no facts to back up what they teach. Where are the facts and research to support Dr. Joseph's statement. Is he basing his statement on just 2 leaders?

    It is a sad day to see Dr. Simon defend this because when I sat in her classes ages ago she was the type of teacher who taught the facts.

    (16)(24)
    • University lecturers all have their own opinion and thoughts, Dr. Simon was absolutely correct. Dr Joseph as an academic is expected to speak from an informed position. Students are not expected to always agree with lecturers, I always challenged my lectures when i believe their arguments are flawed, this always follows open discussion and open debate. We are not teaching our children to be sheep!! or political fools, that really is the old type of thinking; following one direction. We have to challenge and ask questions, do research.

      And on a side note, why is it that Pm Chastanet questions why someone has not been fired because they seemingly express a different view to his. That really comes across as unprofessional and childish. If someone has a different opinion to yours, the objective is gaining knowledge, hence question, research, discuss should be the method.

      (14)(5)
  8. I am more distracted by Tennyson rasta no comb hair, than anything else. As for his opinions he is free to express it. White people have not been a paragon of virtue. Lets get the facts straight. Every race knows that whites are racists, whether they are black, brown, yellow or red. A thousand French men cannot be wrong. While all races are racist towards us black people in particular, when they have issues with their white friends, that is the red, brown and yellow ones, the first person they run too is the black people to tell and express themselves. As for me, I always have a good internal laugh because nothing they say is a surprise although it may be a surprise to them, but not to us black people. So white people should get over themselves. They now have a illiterate ass in the white house called Donald Trump who is busy trying to undo everything that the half black man did. They think we dont see. Now he calling to attack Venezuela right next door to us. So thats the white mentality for u. an ugly one. And they take secret or not so secret pride in being nasty. Well we blacks are survivors, always remember that. and we see thru u. never forget that.

    (27)(14)
    • ONCE YOU START TALKING ABOUT THE MAN HAIR AND HIS APPEARANCE - Your point is starting to take an irrelevant turn, grow up, get out of the bubble ...The man is a doctor, well educated what does his hair have to do with anything? (probably making a ton of money with that hair)

      Then you carry on with your BS "Every race knows that whites are racists, whether they are black, brown, yellow or red"; How can you be white, black, yelllow and red... If you trying to be sarcastic try again, the comparisons are not working...

      I STILL STRUGGLE ... YOUR WHOLE PARAGRAPH IS WEAK !!

      (10)(19)
    • Seriously I could not follow anything that you were saying. What about a man hair that is important, in today's society. That is the same level of thought that restricts women from wearing their hair naturally?

      Also I don't know about everyone knowing "white" people are racist. As far as I am aware racism is expressed by persons of every "color"; for want of a better word...........

      (3)(1)
  9. No lecturer should be allowed to teach racism and hate period. UWI needs to investigate this accusation.

    (17)(21)
  10. Clearly Dr. Joseph's resonated with the individual. When you cannot attack the message you attack the messenger. I do agree with Dr. Joseph's position of not engaging people who refute academic research without facts or supporting evidence.

    Like it or not plantocracy is alive and well in Saint Lucia and disturbingly the evidence points to a people who have forgotten their history.

    (5)(17)
    • Mr Chastanet was democratically elected remember that. People have not been treated any differently by the so called academic-oriented black leaders. The region on a whole has been a mess economically since their independence. We have a people who abhores History as asubject. Even some of the commentators on the issue have very little knowledge of their hisory. I don't see what you mean when you say plantocracy is still alive now as it relates to that issue. Note the number of people who don't get justice in this little island of ours. Note the state of our health care,welfareprograms. very little has changed since slavery. As far as I am concerned Mr Chastanet has not done anything to affect the small man that former administrations has not done.

      (0)(0)
  11. The real issue at hand is not what the lecturer said but what is going on at the University of the West Indies. I have issues with the UWI being used as a mouth piece for political parties in the Caribbean. It makes no sense for tax payers money to be used to fund such activity.
    The purpose of the UWI is to educate individuals and train them 'how to think'. The biggest problem in the Caribbean is the UWI and is reflected in the governance of the states. All of them are faced with similar issues and the UWI breeds that type of thinking which bring down the states. Though the head of UWI, Mr. Beckles, have agreed that this is the problem. However, he has not found the strength to deal with it. Though I disagree with the statements made it would be better to be proactive in finding a solution to Caribbean issues rather than blaming the white man. The Whiteman is no longer in-charge and black corruption is the problem to be solved.

    (20)(7)
    • LaLa Land, your comments were very well articulated. I thought I was the only one who realised that lots of lecturers in the Caribbean use their classrooms to stroke their political ego. Like you correctly said we ignore the corruption by our politicians, we turn a blind eye to sexual immorality within the ranks of govt and focus on the blaming the white man all of our lives. No wonder our country is bursting at its seams with crime and unemployment.

      (6)(0)
      • I agree with you on the sexual immorality one aswell. The leader of the opposition has not been able to make a firm commitment of marriage to his woman of years, but he think I can take his commitment seriously.
        Nowhere in the world are politicians elected if they have families like goats. the are required to be married, and sexual immorality is kept in check, Im not saying one will not fall or stray, but it takes alot to MAKE the commitment. Thats the important thing. them fellas are jokers. I will not vote for any man who doesnt think his family's stability, or even the appearance of family stability is important. Too much of them fellas have kids with various women or even have outside women etc... Like I said mistakes are made, but commitments are what shows true character

        (6)(1)
  12. People have a right to say things but there are sometimes consequences to what you say. UWI needs to at least review some of the hateful articles that Dr Joseph has written and said. The last thing we need to the Caribbean right now which is a melting pot of so many people is for us to start hating people because they are white, black, brown or blue. A professor who encourages such thought has no place in this so called advance learning that Ms. Simon speaks of. Is she saying that the professors can say whatever they like with no consequences? Is this not the argument the whole world is having now as to whether we should give a platform to hate speech? TEnnyson Joseph is a Labour Party hack and he has had a vendetta against Prime Minister Chastanet for a long time. Tying the Prime Minister to Trump is ridiculous and is he has so many degrees he should know that. I think Mr Joseph thinks we are dumb and will drink his koolaid. Like so many other useless UWI graduates that have barely contributed to the advancement of the Caribbean Tennyson Joseph has nothing to offer. Yall have led this region for so many years and nothing has come of it. Maybe what we need is more businessmen like Allen Chastanet who actually has ideas unlike the UWI grads who spend most their time patting each other on the back for their academic acheivements when out region suffers. Allen do your work the people will judge you in four years. do not be distracted.

    (17)(23)
  13. Another thing, she claims that they do not teach people to be sheep but that is exactly what you will get when lecturers feed their students their opinions. The education system will never truly allow students to think for themselves and be free to express their own ideas and opinions because everything we learn was a thought of some past philosopher. We just regurgitate what it is that they have expressed before and we become their followers. Dr. Joseph is just doing the exact same thing. Teaching students to believe in his opinion. They will never tell you that they make it mandatory for students to accept the beliefs and opinions of lecturers (which they don't do) but once the seed is sown, then they have accomplished they task. A great lecturer will pose questions to students to allow them to think on their own without prejudice or influencing them to go in a certain direction. Teach students to be FREE thinkers without giving your opinion. Now that is the task

    (18)(14)
  14. Nigus

    U are as dumb as the rest. read to understand and Dr. Simon is right all the way. I am a lecturer myself and people do not read to understand. The lady is saying a university is not a primary school, it is a place where research, debate, discourse and expressing your views freely and respectfully is done. It is a place you can defend your research, where views are shared. It is not a primary school where the curriculum is set. My goodness read to understand. Foolish!

    (31)(9)
    • Fyi...there was no debate. Dr. Joseph was sowing hate under the guise of teaching. Dr. Simon has lost her credibility by defending such.

      (4)(2)
  15. So many lecturers in the Us have been either let go and disciplined for making racist comments. Dr. Simon was deflecting in the poor excuse for a defense she gave on behalf of her colleague. She never once referenced the accusation of racial comments nor stated that this is something that should never be allowed for it can incite a reaction similar as what we saw over the past weekend in Charlotesville, Virginia. This is what's wrong with our educators and so called intellectuals today, they just don't know how to keep the politics out and be fair and balanced when dealing with what's right or wrong. In 2017, we just saw what racism can do in the US and we will allow persons of influence to continue along that trend without any consequence? Sad!!!!

    (15)(16)
  16. how dare you speak about my PRIMARY MINISTER like that

    (7)(15)
  17. Is Dr. Simon insinuating that our primary schools are raising sheep? Likewise, our secondary schools which also follow a prescribed curriculum. Is it any wonder why our youth are deemed clueless? The education system has failed to truly educate them.

    (16)(12)
    • You realise you are defending the cirriculum which still teaches that Christopher Columbus found the islands and cows jump over moons... yes they are raising sheep and it is our job to teach them to think for themselves. Not everone will agree with everyone else's opinion but we have to respect their opinion

      (12)(2)
  18. Well said, Dr. Simon!!

    (16)(12)
  19. That is why courses like the olde "The Use of English" to me, should have remained a prerequisite, as a basis for advanced classes in any subject area for a first degree. Critical thinking is not part and parcel of our education system --- from the bottom up. With phenomena such as "Weaponized Lies" we are making complete naffins of our so-called educated elite. We then go ahead to select and elect unbalanced people for the top of strategic organizations --- regionally.

    (5)(4)

  20. Don't worry about Dr. Tennyson Joseph Mr.PM .that's his opinion and an opinion is like a as$#0le everybody have theirs. no disrespect .But tell me DOCTOR Joseph what are the qualifications of a politician.

    (19)(15)
  21. Well, what can one expect from our "Not too bright PM"

    (31)(16)
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