Irvine Hall was the UWI’s first purpose-built hall of residence and the first to be demolished and slated for renewal. Yet many early Irvinites remember, intensely, their undergraduate days on hall, with Irvine’s iconic ‘Spine’ featuring heavily in their recollections. Two such Irvinites – author Merle Collins of Grenada and justice Irving Andre of Dominica – were recently among seven UWI graduates chosen to receive special UWI 70th anniversary Pelican Awards*. They spoke about the Spine during a visit to the UWI Museum.
Also coming up, within that context, was the atmosphere of the university’s founding Mona campus in those early years following on what is often called the Rodney Riots – widespread destruction in Jamaica’s capital city, involving a range of actors but sparked by a peaceful demonstration of UWI students outraged at the Jamaican government’s exclusion of UWI lecturer Walter Rodney in October 1968.
If you’d like to engage with the subject of UWI student activism and the Rodney events of 1968, check out our sister blog set up to encourage sharing around an exhibition and conference scheduled for October 2018 – 50 years after the Rodney Riots. Confrontations: UWI Student Activism and the Rodney Disturbance of 1968 is the title for the twinned events on which the UWI Museum is collaborating with the UWI Mona Department of History & Archaeology.
* The Pelican is the crest of the UWI Coat of Arms, which dates back to 1949, and has become symbolic of members of the regional university. The brown Pelican, pelicanus occidentalis, is common to all the countries of the Caribbean region that the UWI serves.