The Grenville Phillips Column – Ross University – Hip Hip Hooray
Barbados is fortunate to have Ross University relocating here, and our Prime Minister deserves credit for facilitating the move. This was a win for everyone: the University, which would have a wonderful location in the true land-of-the-free; the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), which would be able to pay its bills and not be a drain on tax payers; but most importantly, ordinary households.
The severe austerity is impacting those with home mortgages, and to have the reported 1,000 students plus 300 staff paying perhaps $1,000 per month for a room in someone’s house, may save the house from foreclosure. If the mortgage has already been paid, then the money can be used to invest in the education of their children.
The immediate beneficiaries would likely have been those in close proximity to the LESC, who would have likely benefitted slimily as those near the University of the West Indies. However, given the LESC’s favourable location and Barbados’ radial road network, anyone living near Highways 4, 5 and 6 would have an advantage since it would be one bus ride to and from LESC.
Many homes are already prepared to host the students and staff, having upgraded their houses to accommodate visitors for the Cricket World Cup. The level of interaction should be beneficial to the families since these are post-graduate students, and the exchange of ideas can only benefit both parties. Well done Barbados!
Yesterday, to my dismay, I read that all Barbadian households were disqualified from offering their houses as accommodation to the students and staff. I learnt that only those small houses in the Coverley residential development, which are located far away from LESC, were approved for Ross University students and staff. I felt sick reading that even if students wanted to have accommodation at a Barbadian household, that they could not.
Something did not seem right. Certainly Ross University would correct this offensive news report, but it remained unchallenged. Hence, this article.
Why is this offensive behaviour being tolerated in Barbados? Everyone in a free country has the right to seek accommodation that they can afford. Even in countries that limit personal freedoms, like Cuba, Russia, China and North Korea, people can still choose to select affordable accommodations.
In Barbados, the only persons who do not have the choice of accommodations are inmates detained at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) Dodds, the Psychiatric Hospital, and those who choose a military type regimen like the Youth Service and the Defence Force. Everyone else has a constitutional right to personal liberty where they can seek affordable accommodations.
Is there no lawyer in Barbados who can request a judicial review of this offensive contract? Is there no person at the Fair Trading Commission who can make a determination of the fairness of this contract? Why are we tolerating having Barbados’ reputation being damaged in this manner?
It actually gets worse, as if that were even possible. These approximately 1,000 sq ft area houses are reportedly being rented to accommodate 4 persons, who must each pay approximately US$1,000 per month in rent. What???
This rent is so ridiculously high that those 4 students can pool their rent money for 3 years and easily purchase the house that they are renting. They can then sell it, share it as a vacation home, or rent it to other students after they graduate? Clearly they would not even need to consider something so extreme if the rent was reasonable, but to not consider this investment opportunity would be financially irresponsible of them.
It is a well-known maxim that to understand what is really going on, one should follow the money. It has been reported that the houses at Coverley were not selling as expected. It seems that only a few favoured people are supposed to benefit from the relocation of Ross University.
While homeowners and others may mourn the loss of this economic opportunity, the real victims are the unsuspecting students – who are to be incarcerated at HMP Coverly.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com