In the continuing fallout from the recent alleged torture incident at the George Alleyne Hall, operated by 138 Student Living at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus, Our Today understands that parents throughout the region are becoming opposed to sending their children to Jamaica to complete their studies.
When describing her initial reaction to the news surrounding the torture case, one local parent – the mother of a current George Alleyne Hall resident, shared that she recalls being shocked, heartbroken and scared for her own daughter.
“I want strong justice for that child and her parents,” said the mother.
“I think there needs to be more security at campus, something needs to be in place for checking on people that attend classes regularly and just disappear for days,” she continued.
Some students residing on the hall have shared with Our Today that they have been hearing word about parents considering withdrawing their children from university in Jamaica, or opting against their children applying to UWI (Mona) entirely in light of the news, while other students shared that they are purposefully not sharing the news of the incident with their parents abroad.
A senior member of the UWI faculty, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivities around the case, shared her initial reaction and further thoughts following the incident. She emphasised that gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive issue, and, understandably, parents should be worried about the safety of their children.
“As a parent, the shock, the horror of it, I didn’t know what to say or think initially. When I came down after that, the feeling I felt was rage. If that was my daughter, how would you (the administration) even tell me? The boy wouldn’t survive.”
The staff member continued: “I can understand anyone’s apprehension about sending their child to UWI after this incident. As a matter of fact, if we were to depart about issues of gender-based violence, parents in general are apprehensive about sending their children, especially daughters, to another country, to another university. In general, you’re worried if they can even manage basic stuff like school, living, feeding themselves, doing laundry and so forth, but this incident is adding a complex layer of fear that parents are now going to face, but this shouldn’t be looked at as a black and white issue.”
The staff member pointed out that parenting means preparing a child for the world outside of school and the only realistic thing a parent can do when preparing a child to face that reality is to instil in them a strong sense of character and high self-worth to allow them to avoid seeking validation from outside.
Last week, a hall occupant of the George Alleyne Hall, Matthew Hyde, allegedly detained his girlfriend for three days and subjected her to torture including burning her with a clothes iron. The victim has since been rescued and received medical treatment and Hyde has been charged by the police with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and pending other potential charges. Both parties no longer reside on the hall.
In a statement earlier this week, The UWI condemned GBV and indicated that it is fully cooperating with the police investigations, commends the hero student who reported the incident to the authorities and stands ready to provide additional medical and emotional support to the injured student, her family and other students who have been traumatised by the incident.
Hyde has since been charged with false imprisonment, malicious communication and assault occasioning bodily harm in addition to his previous charge of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.
He was remanded in custody until March 9, after appearing in court today (February 16).