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We are justified in awarding honorary degrees – Toney

We are justified in awarding honorary degrees – Toney

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The Association of Writers of St Vincent and the Grenadines (AWSVG) is justly positioned to confer honorary degrees on outstanding persons.

This is the opinion of president of the association Dr Chester Toney who in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, said the AWSVG is a registered, non-profit organization which was set up “practically in the same vein as universities would operate.”{{more}}

Toney noted that he is not just a medical doctor, but a published writer.

“I have a doctorate degree. It gives me that possibility to bestow such.”

He explained that a doctorate degree shows you that the person has done certain degrees of study and in that sense, it validates that person to “actually assess practically anything of a doctoral manner.”

“What even gives it strength is the fact that I have two published works. If you haven’t published any work, then that does not give you the possibility to set up such an organization as I have set up,” he said.

Toney said being an incorporated body, AWSVG is part of the State, and is written into law.

“We are justly qualified to bestow these degrees based on that.”

The gynaecologist also explained that only someone who makes his or her living as a writer could set up an organization such as AWSVG.

“I did not incorporate the organization. You cannot be a professional and incorporate the organization. You have to be a writer…. So that is where everyone else failed in the past. “You are just supposed to be a writer who writes for a living.”

Toney said the organization was incorporated by local author Herlon Phillips, who has published five books.

He acknowledged that what is being done by his organization is a new concept for most Vincentians, who would only be familiar with the conferment of honorary degrees by academic institutions.

He also said that what AWSVG is doing is based on intellectual property conventions which were set up internationally.

He did not give specifics of the conventions referred to, but said: “Because of trade liberalization and globalization and information technology, a lot of the hurdles you had to cross [previously] were broken down.”

He further said his organization is giving honours on merit.

“We are not giving persons who have never done anything.”

Dr Toney said because St Vincent and the Grenadines is, on relative terms, a newly independent nation, we still do not understand the power of the sovereignty of the country, and that is what baffles people.

“But any country that has over 100 years of independence, understands these concepts. Anyone who knows the concept of sovereignty will understand what we are doing. It is just that we do not think of ourselves so large enough yet at 35 years to do such powerful stuff.”

He said if what his organization is doing is illegal, they would have been jailed.

Toney, however, said he is not surprised that some people are outraged at what is going on.

“In the global world, you have to have alternatives. There can never be one way of doing anything, anymore.

“No one has an authority anymore on knowledge… that is a thing of the past. No university, nothing. That is what is baffling a lot of people because universities no longer have authority on knowledge.”

So far, AWSVG has bestowed two honorary degrees. The first was to musician and arranger Frankie McIntosh, with the second being conferred posthumously to the late poet and musician Ellsworth McGranaham “Shake” Keane.

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