UPDATE 2: Law Representatives meet Chamber of Advocates. Għ.S.L rebuke ELSA statements. ELSA replies.

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A delegation of students consisting of Faculty Board Representatives Patrick Gatt, Paul Caruana Turner, and Għ.S.L executive members Dirk Urpani and Clive Gerada, held a meeting with the Chamber of Advocates yesterday morning where the primary point of discussion was the ‘Dr’ title issue.

Speaking to Insiteronline Għ.S.L President Clive Gerada, explained that the focal point of the meeting was the recommendation proposed by the students who attended the consultative meetings.
”The meeting was fruitful… Nonetheless, Dr. Reuben Balzan (President of the Chamber of Advocates) will be discussing the proposal with his committee and the Junior Chamber of Advocates who will be releasing a statement shortly.”

Mr. Gerada then clarified the overall situation further by stating that “The warrant determines everything”. If the ‘Lawyers Act’ that, on approval, comes in 2014 states that a person needs a ‘doctorate’ (LL.D) to sit for the bar exam then the University administration needs to abide by it. ”We’re not against the reform as some have suggested. If these students entered the course with a perfectly legitimate expectation that they we’re going to be granted the title of ‘Dr’ then a compromise must be achieved.”

After being queried about ELSA’s claim that their approach needs to be more ‘holistic’, Mr Gerada highlighted that Għ.S.L considered all the “principal stakeholders to this issue”. Apart from yesterday’s meeting Għ.S.L have held discussions with the Dean of Laws, met up with all the student and faculty representatives concerned and also held two crucial consultative meetings with 1st and 2nd year students.

Furthermore, Għ.S.L and Faculty Board Representatives have also been in contact with Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Hon Dr. Owen Bonnici, where a meeting will be held in this regard. Mr. Gerada argued that such a wide consultation cannot be regarded as not being ‘holistic’.

When queried about the involvement of the Junior Chamber of Advocates, Mr. Gerada highlighted that unlike what was being suggested by ELSA’s recent account to Insiteronline, Għ.S.L had kept them informed about the situation.

He also clarified that after speaking to Mr Natalino Caruana DeBrincat, president of the JCA, it was made clear that as an organisation outside University, JCA are more focused on the ‘Professional side’ of the law course unlike Għ.S.L which is more concerned with the academic issues. He also cited a recent article written by General Secretary Chris Bergdahl explaining the role of JCA.

No “approval” from other organisations needed
In response to allegations that ELSA and KSU were not contacted by GħSL he explained that as an organisation GħSL cannot understand why it needs the “approval” of other entities to perform its duties of representing its students. He argued that this goes contrary to the autonomy of student organisations on campus and that proactive organisations need more support – not criticised for speaking their mind.

However, Mr. Gerada concluded that ”We are open to work with anyone. We are extremely glad that ELSA have finally released a position on the matter making our overall message stronger.”

Statement by Faculty Board Representative Paul Caruana Turner:
”We are very happy that the chamber is on board with the proposal, which is basically that there should be a cut-off point. We agree that the course should follow the Bologna process, but those students that entered the course with a legitimate expectation to acquire the title (of doctor) should be granted their wish. We’re also very glad that ELSA seem to be on board. The more organisations that make their voice heard the stronger our position is.”

In a statement released shortly after the publication of this article, ELSA state that they “cannot understand how Għ.S.L president Clive Gerada states that all stakeholders and student organisations concerned have been contacted, when to this date, ELSA has never been contacted.”

ELSA concur that GħSL do not need the approval of KSU or theirs to proceed with its work. However, according to ELSA this statement confirms that Għ.S.L do not truly understand the proper meaning of a “holistic approach – where all student organisations work hand in hand with one main aim and intention of reaching the same goals.”
ELSA believes that a consultative meeting should be organised where truly all the stakeholders concerned are brought together- these include the Dean, Hon. Dr. Bonnici and the Chamber of Advocates. The organisation clearly stressed that this would be the best way to keep the students informed of what is going on, whilst giving students “the most accurate information”.

ELSA deem that “while appreciating Għ.S.L’s work on the matter, the fact remains that students are still in the dark as to what is being discussed and hence why many are so concerned about this issue.” ELSA has already contacted all student organisations concerned, as well as the Faculty Representatives, to participate in this consultative meeting.

As a final note, ELSA urges all student organisations “to refrain from trying to gain political mileage from a situation where students’ rights are concerned.” It claims that “We can only achieve the desired results by working all together.”

KSU comments
In a comment given to Insiteronline KSU stated that it is open to work with any organisation wishing to collaborate on important issues such as this one. Faculty-based organisations such as Għ.S.L and ELSA can obviously focus more on these particular issues which are pertinent to their faculties and students. KSU appreciates the hard work done by all organisations in this regard. Having said that, KSU reiterates its commitment to back any cause which is in the students’ interest, especially where KSU can be involved to push for discussion and positive outcome.

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