Today marks 38 days since the Director of St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) refused to communicate with me. I did him nothing wrong. I asked him a straightforward question regarding my salary via email on the evening of Friday December 31, 2021. No acknowledgement, no response, no return of my calls.
I have been a lecturer at the SVGCC for the last 14 years. I still hold the official post of “Graduate Teacher/Lecturer St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College”. I have not received a letter of dismissal, nor am I awaiting one. I do not know that the SVCCC has any issues of concern relative to the performance of my primary duties. If they did, I would not have been showered with commendations in a letter appointing me as the Head of the Business Department at the Division of Technical and Vocational Education(DTVE) on November 27, 2020.
They acknowledged then “[my] quality of service over the years to the Division” and that the “Divisional administration believes that [I] possess the leadership, interpersonal skills and qualifications to effectively coordinate this department.” Their words.
I served on several committees at the SVGCC, was instrumental in curriculum development and programme coordination and was called upon routinely to perform duties on behalf of my Division. I maintained a respectful relationship with the administration of the college. We worked together on many tasks including the crafting of a Code of Ethics for the SVGCC.
My highest priority was my students. I did everything I could to serve them with the highest levels of professionalism and morality.
Yet, today also marks 69 days since I was last paid a salary by the SVGCC. I am still an employee, but the Director of the College has determined that my salary should be withheld and has refused to answer me on why such a wicked act was committed against me and my dependents. The Director’s name is Nigel Scott. I believe victims must always name the evil and the evildoer.
You see, in October 2021, an asinine mandate emerged that required all workers of the SVGCC to be “vaccinated” with a jab that neither stops the transmission of nor prevents infection from the covid19 virus. The deadline to comply was November 19, 2021. And this was the perfect excuse for the cold-heartedness of the SVGCC’s administration against employees.
A faculty meeting was convened online on October 22, 2021 during which the mandate was discussed. We were told that all must comply, regardless of the mode of delivery – online or not. A few persons, including myself, raised strong objections on the grounds of conscience and health condition and some declared their firm decision not to comply. It was obvious that the College’s administration did not care for any descent or objection and was bent on implementing this mandate at all cost. We should not have been surprised; the insensitivity of the college had become a proverb.
With haste, the HR Department prepared a list of positions held by workers who did not provide proof of vaccination. On November 17, 2021, two days before the mandate’s deadline, those positions were publicly advertised. As if that was not heartless enough, the list was emailed to employees asking us to assist the HR Department in finding our replacements. Lecturers and other staff members looked in horror at their position being advertised on the college’s official Facebook page. This was a clear indication that we were no longer needed.
The culture shifted for the worse. Lecturers were now being addressed in emails as “Employee” instead of the customary “Colleague”. The jab refusers were instructed to conclude their work and hand in the college’s property. Those who applied for exemptions were instructed not to teach. This applied also to online delivery. Letters denying exemptions were subsequently issued. My letter was particularly offensive in many respects.
I received this letter on December 03, 2021 at 4:41 PM, exactly three weeks after I had applied for exemption from this “vaccine” based on religious grounds as a member of Thusia Seventh Day Adventist Church. The letter, addressed to “Mr. Shefflorn Ballantyne” carried the greeting “Dear Sir/Madam.” It then proceeded to quote the unscientific rule under which my application for exemption was being denied. With no further direction, I was instructed to be “guided accordingly”. Requests for clarity were met with further elusiveness from the HR Manager, so I continued online delivery of my classes.
One week later, I was blocked from the online platform. Today is 55 calendar days since accounting was taught to my students at DTVE. For two months now, the students have been robbed of instruction in Entrepreneurial Accounting, Financial Accounting and Fundamentals of Accounting. All three courses are specialized, two of which are for final year students. The students continue to suffer in silence, even as a blended approach is currently pursued by the college. Many “vaccinated” lecturers are allowed to deliver online, some due to covid exposure and infection. No such alternative was given to me.
The college does not care about these students’ education and training. It seems that their concern is to ensure that only vaccinated employees remain on their payroll. To hell with young entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneurship and Small Business programme, and the budding accountants from the Business Studies: Accounting programme. You are not important. We must get rid of Mr. Ballantyne and other unvaccinated lecturers, and that is all that matters. That’s the message and it is as clear as day.
I am a Graduate Lecturer at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College. I am a transferred officer under the Public officers (Transfer to Undertakings) Act. The Director of the SVGCC has requested that I be retransferred into the Public Service. This is the second of such requests by the college that I am aware of. The first was in 2012. None was based on wrong doing. These requests were directly linked to a disdain for my loyalty to conscience. I simply held views that were in line with God’s will for me, but out of sync with those held by the authorities. For that, the SVGCC’s administration is pursuing a campaign of persecution against me.
Until the Service Commissions finds a post for me, I should be afforded the same courtesy given to many at the SVGCC who, for years, have requested retransfer into the public service. They were all kept and utilized by the college to the benefit of the students. They are all being paid.
If you see the Director in your travels, tell him to stop persecuting the innocent. The wickedness he is dishing out will return to him. Students are suffering. His irrational motives are blinding his view and making him into a petty tyrant. Such evils do not escape the notice of God.
“And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers… and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:5
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