- The reoccurring cases of female students harassment in universities have been a source of worry for stakeholders in the education sector
- A recent case at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, have revived the issue
- The president of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said they would collaborate with the universities in handling cases being investigated
The president, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, has reacted to the reoccurring cases of female students harassment in universities.
In an interview with The Punch, Professor Ogunyemi highlighted what ASUU is doing to address the scandals across varsities.
He said: “We have always institutionalised procedures for tracking, preventing and controlling, as such every branch of the union has ethics and grievances committee, where students are encouraged to lodge complaints. We have always encouraged such cases to be brought to our attention early enough for us to deal decisively with them.
“We also collaborate with the universities in handling cases being investigated because anybody can allege that a lecturer did this or that. However, once there is an allegation it should be investigated and where evidence can be advanced, due process should be followed in meting out the appropriate sanctions.
“In other words, I am saying that at the level of the union there are structures and at the level of the universities, there are also structures. Where cases have been proved beyond reasonable doubt, our union has always cooperated with the university in applying the correct sanctions. That is what we have been doing and we will continue to do.”
On the calls for the prosecution and possible imprisonment of the sacked universities, the ASUU president said those found culpable should be made to face the music. He, however said ASUU would not allow its members to be maligned and wrongfully persecuted, adding that the union stands for a healthy relationship with students.
On what the union is doing to orientate lecturers that harassment of students is wrong, he said: “We make it clear to our members that anybody who allows himself or herself to be caught on the wrong side of the law; we will not go out of our way to defend them.
“As regarding orientation, we do regular information, education and communication, each time we have our meetings, we discuss ethical issues, state of our union, as well as state of our universities because we want to remind ourselves of the university culture.
“Since this scandal started, we have also sat back and formed student-staff joint committees on some of these issues and we have come up with a proposal that every faculty should have a suggestion box; departments too. Our secretariat in each university will also have a suggestion box, so where students cannot come up and report formally, they can drop complaints and we will follow up.
“Within ourselves, we know some elements are disgracing us and we are not comfortable with it. When you have these cases being reported, nobody can come out clean, except you investigate and find that the person lives above board. It requires an additional effort to prove innocence. We are as worried as the larger society because we know these people are from us."
Reacting to reports that some female students offer their bodies for marks or male students offer money for marks, the ASUU president said lecturers who are well trained will stave off such advances.
“For instance, guidelines on the conduct of examinations, grading of scripts, return of scores and calculation of students’ scores are laid out, even up to the university senate that will consider the result and award certificates. If the procedures are well laid out, whatever will make you compromise in the process of participating is not desirable.
“In fact, if students try that with some lecturers, they will have themselves to blame. It is when they see the lecturer is vulnerable that they try him or her. It is left for lecturers to live above board, show their students that they are models and mentor them in the proper way of handling sacred transactions like award of scores,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and parents of students in higher institutions have called on the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University to prosecute alleged randy professor, Richard Akindele.
Akindele was found guilty of abusing his power by demanding s*x in exchange for marks from a student of the university, Monica Osagie.
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