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(JAMAICA GLEANER) –– The leadership of The University of the West Indies, Mona, is scrambling to reassure students that the campus is still safe, following the discovery of a body on the campus.
Panic broke out at the St Andrew-based institution early yesterday morning as word spread that a body was discovered in an irrigation pond close to the University Chapel near the campus’ main gate.
The deceased has been identified as 69-year-old medical doctor Judith Rose-Spencer, who lived on Great House Boulevard in Mona, St Andrew.
But as investigators from the Jamaica Constabulary Force examined the scene, staff and students began to speculate about the circumstances that could have led to Rose-Spencer ending up in the pond, which, though in a remote location on the campus, is not very far from where students would venture for personal time.
They lamented how “unsafe” the campus felt and chided the university’s administration for not doing enough to secure it.
Some students even took to social media to demand “serious action from The UWI” regarding security on the campus.
However, The UWI was quick in its attempt to calm fears, releasing a preliminary report from police personnel that foul play had not been suspected in the incident.
“We (The UWI leadership) were initially very worried about the situation because we didn’t know what it was. The campus is very big and anything can happen,” a senior administrator at the regional institution told The Gleaner yesterday on condition of anonymity. “What we were very worried about is that this incident was happening so close to Research Day, which is later this week. So while we are still concerned, I don’t think the concern is now whether the campus is safe – based on the reports we have had so far.”
The UWI said that an assessment carried out by the campus security team has indicated that there is no threat to any member of the university community.
It also expressed condolences to the family of the deceased, who was neither a student nor a staff member.
Only last year, The UWI heightened security on its Mona campus following the defacing of a Marcus Garvey bust on the campus resulting in the decision being taken for it to be placed under 24-hour watch.
At a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last year, campus principal Professor Dale Webber said it costs The UWI, Mona, close to $30 million per month to secure its 650 acres of space.
“It’s a huge campus, 650 acres, and despite the fact that our students need security, they equally need freedom, so the campus has to walk that tightrope between having security and having that level of freedom,” chairman of the UWI Security Committee, Professor Ian Boxill, added.