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Mixed reactions over sex-for-marks scandal in higher institutions

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Since the news broke over sex-for-marks scandal between Professor Richard Akindele of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, and a female postgraduate student of the institution, Monica Osetobe Osagie, most Nigerians have reacted to the incident in different ways.

Social media has been abuzz, as different interpretations and dimensions have been given to the incident. The university authority has, after investigation, suspended Professor Akindele. The incident has, once again, brought to the fore the menace of sex-for-marks in institutions of higher learning across the country.

Obviously, many believe that the practice is as old as the institutions themselves, but has only become more pronounced in recent times. This is not rampant only in higher institutions. It is a common practice in other sectors as long as male and female relationships are concerned. So, it is possible that Akindele’s case was that of a dog caught with excreta in its mouth, not minding the fact that other dogs eat excreta too.

Again, Akindele’s case became public knowledge with the help of information technology and non-comformity on Osagie’s part. So, the question is: Would the case have come to the public domain if there was a mutual understanding between the professor and the female student? Not very likely! This is the irony of the sex-for-marks menace in higher institutions or sex-for-promotions in the work place.

Meanwhile, there have been several of such incidents that were not reported, because there was mutual understanding between the lecturers and the students involved, especially in tertiary institutions and its perpetrators in other climes.

But whatever is the case, sex scandals in our ivory towers is condemnable, as it has eroded the spirit of excellence and hard work in higher institutions. In some cases, desperate and lazy students make sexual overtures to lecturers to enable them pass their courses, while some randy lecturers take advantage of students’ academic weaknesses to abuse them sexually.

In either of the cases, neither the lecturers, nor the students should be exonerated from the despicable act. It is a two-pronged socio-academic malady that needs a holistic approach to be effectively curtailed.

Some Lazy Female Students Usually Harass Lecturers Sexually
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

Issues of sexual harassment in higher institutions are multi-dimensional, with either the teachers or students initiating the move. A 400 level student in the Department of Public Administration, University of Jos, Matilda Jacobs, said although she has not fallen prey to lecturers’ sexual advances or harassment, it does not mean they were not harassing other students.

Jacobs, however, said there are many good and disciplined male lecturers, who believe that their duty on campus should be to properly guide the students, teach them well and do not bother about their female students.

According to her, “We have some amorous hawks on the campuses who call themselves lecturers, especially the young ones who do not have much experience. They call you anytime of the day. They have student agents too who they send to woo girls on their behalf.

“Their marks are not usually based on what the female students actually score. Their marks do not reflect the students’ ability. They either give them higher marks because they yield to their sexual advances or fail them for refusing their offers.”

She said some female students too do not help matters, adding: “They are lazy. So, at the end of the day after examinations, when they discover they have failed, they meet the lecturer concerned and offer him something to pass them.

“The scenario is two-way. Some female students go to the lecturer without any prompting or seduction. If the lecturer is that kind of a man who is easily moved by sexual passion, he quickly agrees. But if he is the type of lecturer who does not do something like that, he sends the student away.

“Also, some lecturers pick a female student to meet him in his office after lectures. If the student does not yield to his demands, he fails the student despite the fact that she performs well in his course. That is what happens on campuses.”

However, Jacobs is grateful to God that she has not been a victim of lecturers’ sexual harassment.

On what should be done to end the menace, she said: “There should be strict marking. May be after a lecturer finishes marking, the department should set up a body to go through what the lecturer had marked so that what every student had written is re-assessed to know whether he or she deserves the marks the lecturer awarded. And whoever is under-rated or over-rated would be traced whether the over-rated student gave ‘something’ in return or whether the under-rated one refused something like sexual advancement.”

Another final year student of the Department of Administration and Business Studies, Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi, Benita John, argued that some male lecturers always go after students who are not academically sound, knowing that is their weapon to entice them to succumb to sexual pressures.

She said such female students end up being given grades that do not even boost their grades.

According to John, “We have had cases where male lecturers have been caught with students in their offices. But I have never heard that a male lecturer was penalised because students could report them for fear of being victimised.

“I have also noticed that some female students have a role to play in sexual harassment, because they initiate it at times. Some of them are very lazy and are not ready to study but believe in going from one lecturer to another willing to pay in both cash and kind.”

On the causes and effects of the sexual harassment, John advised male lecturers not to see lecturing as an opportunity to sexually harass their female students, because it poses enormous dangers, advising female students to be more hardworking and stop loafing around.

However, a parent in Angwan Rogo of Jos North council, Yusuf Usman, who has two female students at the University of Jos, said the society in which this generation finds itself is characterised by moral decay, character defects, adding that there is no value, respect for humanity, culture and religion.

He said the introduction of sexual harassment in institutions was man-made because the issue could be avoided.

Usman added that in the past, parents dressed decently and their children imitated them by dressing well too as they all respected their culture.

“In those good old days, a girl or boy did not interact freely with older people. But today, it is not the same. We have borrowed Western culture nowadays. Even parents are encouraging their daughters to dress almost naked. Show your breasts and show your buttocks in the name of dressing are now in vogue. That is what you see in tertiary institutions today.

“It is in few departments that you see dress codes nowadays. For example, you have dress codes in Law Faculty and Mass Communication. There are no dress codes in Arts, Social Sciences, Medicine and Architecture. Dressing is an attribute that attracts sexual harassment from male lecturers.

“Again, despite the Churches, Mosques and other religious organisations we pride ourselves in, they have not helped our girls. Not all male lecturers have the capacity to control their sexual urge watching these girls who dress almost naked. What do you expect? They are human beings. They are not sexually impotent.”

‘Refusal To Report Such Acts Encourages Perpetrators To Continue’
Chairman of the Niger Delta University (NDU), Amassoma chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Stanley Ogoun, in this interview with JULIUS OSAHON spoke on the sex-for-mark custom in the country’s higher institutions.

What is your view on the controversy over sex-for-marks scourge in higher institutions?
First of all, let me correct the false impression that it is peculiar to educational institutions. This is an issue that is prevalent in human societies across the world. Therefore, it would be myopic to consider it as a peculiar problem of tertiary educational institutions.

It has persisted in human societies including the university system, because of the human frailty. The pursuit of happiness without moral restraint and consideration for others is another causative factor.

Furthermore, those who indulge in the act in the university environment are like cougars who take advantage of their positions to prey on their victims. Also, the refusal of victims to report such acts encourages the perpetrators to continue. When victims, for perceived fear of victimisation or stigmatisation, fail to report, even the internal mechanism for sanctioning erring staff or students cannot be deployed.

Furthermore, the suggestive and expository dressing style of most ladies often drives this animalistic behaviour for those who do not fear God and also lack self-restraint. Another dimension central to this unfortunate behaviour is society’s acceptance of the right to prey on either sex once you have the advantage. This includes the acceptance of infidelity as a way of life. Finally, the preponderance of students who are not willing to study encourages this debasing and irrational behavior

Is this happening in your institutions and how rampant?
We have heard rumours of this unfortunate act but the supposed victims have never come forward to report. It, therefore, remains at the realm of rumour despite the university’s zero tolerance policy and the existence of a well-defined framework for sanctioning erring staff and students.

Have you been a victim? If yes, how did it happen?
Yes. From female students who want to pass examinations without reading, and therefore solicit sex for marks most times through suggestive dressing and solicitations by behavior and body language. I have dealt with this by telling all students I teach my stand on the matter. Also, by insisting on descent dressing as a precondition for entering my class and office.

What do you think are the causes and possible solutions?
The effect is psychological trauma for the victims, as well as a feeling of helplessness and the pain of being exploited. Also, it discourages hardworking students and staff.

What can be done to curb this menace?
There is urgent need for a moral rebirth in the society, because universities are a part of the society. Establishing a God-fearing society and a strong condemnation of this unfortunate act by all wherever and whenever it occurs. There is also the need for application of punitive measures for perpetrators and the establishment of remedial measures for victims.

In Auchi Polytechnic, Exams Scripts Are Exchanged Among Lecturers To Check Scourge
From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City

Sexual harassment between lecturers and female students in tertiary institutions is a common trend in institutions in Edo State including some private institutions.

Findings by The Guardian, however, showed that the issue of harassment comes in different forms at times. In some cases, it is the lecturers that are harassed by the female students unlike the most common practice of lecturers harassing female students.

At the University of Benin (UNIBEN), it is a hush occurrence as it rarely happens but rather mostly consensual between the students and the lecturers but obviously most of the students go into sexual relationships for marks.

Two students who spoke to The Guardian said they had not experienced it but they are aware it happens rarely, noting that lecturers/students relationships for favourable scores in examination was common.

”I have never experienced it and none of my friends or course mates have come up with such. However, I know it does happen but it is always a consensual relationship and not the reported cases of lecturers making sex a condition for scoring good grades.

“It also depends on the students, because any student who is serious with her studies from my experience in the last two sessions I have spent, will not have anything to fear.

“Like in my case, there are some of my lecturers I don’t even know their offices because our relationship have been cordial. They play their own part by teaching us and we play our part of learning and passing our examinations.”

At the Ambrose Ali University (AAU), Ekpoma, it is a case of what the students want. Apart from a celebrated case few years ago that went viral online, such incidences are now rare.

Sharing her experience with The Guardian, a graduate of Science and Laboratory Technology who graduated from the university two years ago said: “It is a case of dressing the way you want to be addressed. Many students came here for different purposes. Those who came to read, those came to club and party and those who came just to get good grades. The last category could do anything to get the grades they desire.

“There are some who voluntarily gave themselves to lecturers for sex to get grades and graduate. There are those who even entice the lecturers with their provocative dress sense, and of course, some of the lecturers fall for it.”

At Auchi Polytechnic, the management has devised various ways to curb incidences of sexual harassment. One of such is dress code for students. The authorities also devised a system where students’ scripts are marked and scored by other lecturers.

The management has also been strict about the development. But students aggressors is a common occurrence.
   A lecturer told The Guardian: “As I speak to you, several of them are lined up outside my door, because they just finished examinations now so they are all coming with all manner of appeals. So, it is just for you not to be tempted to fall into their temptations. They will ask question like I didn’t do well please help me and I can do anything for you then the conversation starts from there. They tell you just name anything and I will make it available. They will tell you ‘we can be together.’

“Even with the school’s dress code, they still have a way of beating security, as they cover what they wear with jackets and when they come into your office, they pull off their jackets and you are dazzled with such tempting sights except you are principled. The teachers don’t report this, they just send the students away.

“Some of the students date higher officers. They now put pressure on the lower officers and say this is my person, she does not know anything just help her and it now breeds laziness on the part of the students. But management is seriously tackling the issues, even though it cannot be totally eradicated.

“There is also the practice of exchange of marking of scripts. It is no longer business as usual and even the students know that you cannot eradicate it totally, but it is being checked so they are also sitting up.

‘Relationship Between Lecturers And Students Is About Sex And Money’
A psychologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Lagos State University, Dr. Jaiyeoba Folusho Ilesanmi, spoke to DANIEL ANAZIA on the unending cases of sex-for-marks scandal in higher institutions

What is responsible for sex-for-marks scandal in tertiary institutions as recently witnessed at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife?
Before discussing the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife incident, there is the need to first establish that the story is true. Without sounding immodest, such incidents do happen; we know about it and we know it does exist in the market, banks, civil service and work places. It is a global issue. But the question that is begging for answer is why? For me, the answer is neither here nor there. If you want to look at it from the psychological point of view, it is a case of male and female heterosexual interactions. It needs to be noted that wherever you are as a female and you are sexually mature, there will be attraction.

Lecturers harass students and students harass lecturers. I believe that the female students are guilty of the crime. Either way, however, it is not right: legally, morally and professionally. In the university, I think the weapon those who indulge in such acts feel they have is using what they have to get what they want in their examination and such demands are made. No lecturer dares harass an intelligent and committed student. I was Head of Department at a time and at that level, you receive all manner of reports from colleagues and students. One strategy I adopted was, if you report an issue to me, there are two ways of interpreting it. First is that you have to make it official by making a written statement for evidence, which means you also make yourself available to stand for your evidence. Unfortunately, the stress of going through that process is not in favour of the students, because they could be threatened to pack up and they would also feel that there might be a gang up by other lecturers against them.

There are avenues for civilised protest when one is being hounded for sexual favours. The problem is that most students will not protest because they have no confidence in their abilities and are rather willing to negotiate for marks wherever possible. It needs be noted that the physiological attraction between a male and female in the universities is nothing unique, as there would always be a desire wherever males and females interact.

So sexual harassment could happen anywhere and there has been cases of such in the Church office between a pastor and female member, between an Alfa and a female, who may have gone for spiritual assistance; at the workplace between a superior officer and a female colleague and at the residential areas. So, sexual harassment is a recurring incident and could happen anywhere, so long as there is male and female heterosexual interaction.

Some years back, a student failed one of my courses. She came and complained to me about not doing well in the course and I told her she could repeat the course the next semester but she came back and told me she was ready to do ‘whatever I want’. We all know what the end of discussion would be when a female student offers to do whatever it takes to pass an examination. What I’m trying to say is that if I have such behaviour, I could have taken advantage of the situation. The common relationship between a lecturer and a student is sex and money. If an institutional frame up case is reported, it will be dealt with expeditiously and such things would reduce but it will never stop.
As a former Head of Department, were there reported cases of sexual harassment reported to you or the university and what measures were taken to reduce its reoccurrence?

As I said, sexual harassment could happen anywhere, and in the tertiary institutions, it can only be reduced but never stopped. Luckily for us, we have not had cases like that reported, particularly during my time as HOD. In the beginning, when you are in an official position, all kinds of information come to you and when such cases are reported you have to act not with punitive measures but by prevention.

For instance, if as the Head of Department, I allocate a student for project supervision to a colleague and I get information about harassment, I can withdraw that student or call the colleague for interrogation. I heard of a reported case where a student abandoned her project because the lecturer she was allocated to was demanding for sex. I summoned the student and she explained everything to me. The lecturer she was insinuating was my senior but I had the official capacity to deal with the situation, but she never returned. Many of us come from different homes but have some sort of low self-esteem that we do not know our right, and even when we know, we can’t demand for it. There should be a point in your life as a student where nobody can push you from defending your yes or no and if that boundary is crossed, you can report to the authority. Unfortunately, even some members of the institution authorities are involved in this act. It is just like reporting demons to the devil.

What do you think can be done to further reduce this incidence from reoccurring?
I have said that hopefully it can be reduced but it cannot be stopped. The responsibility to reduce it lies with the institution and also with individuals. A student could go out of the university justice system to get justice. The best way to stop this if an eye is going to make the entire system crumble, that eye should be removed.

At a point, there was dress code in tertiary institutions in a bid to stop indecent dressing. Is this still obtainable?
As far as the Lagos State University is concerned, that rule is there and is being observed. When you walk into the university premises there are personnel who ensure that you are not indecently dressed and it goes for both males and females.

Before the rule came in, I have a class where the students were always indecently dressed; for someone of my level what I did was remove those students from the front row and sent them to the back and they have come to understand that when you are coming to my class you don’t dress indecently otherwise I would relocate you. But someone who is all covered up can still be attractive.

Education Minister, Adamu Adamu

Why Sexual Harassment Persists In Higher Institutions, By Rivers Residents  
From Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt

Some residents of Rivers State have blamed the persistent sexual harassment in higher institutions on indecent dressing, female students trading their bodies for marks, while lecturers use it for gratifications.

They said the ugly trend has continued because neither the erring lecturers nor the students have been sanctioned, insisting that if those who err have been punished, it would have served as a deterrent to others.

Speaking with The Guardian, a senior staff of the Rivers State Ministry of Youths Development, Ijeoma Chinedu, expressed concern over the growing menace, stating that it was not so rampant even in the developed countries, because students submit their assignments and examinations online.

She said: “Overseas, you do not need to know the owner of the script, because the students submit their assignments online. It is so here because Nigeria is still backward in a lot of things. Why would Nigerian lectures still be asking students to submit assignments and their examination scripts in hard copies? I think submitting e-copies will go a long way to reduce the ugly trend”

Also speaking, a student of the Imo State University, who resides in Port Harcourt, Queen Oha, told The Guardian that female students who are not committed to their studies often use their bodies as exchange for marks.

“The lecturers who are into such lifestyle know the students who can do such thing. So they go after them. When they come to class, they observe, watch and monitor them. They know the female students who are no go areas,” she said.

Another female student of the University of Port Harcourt, Ngozi Ovunda, stated: “I am in 400 level now and through out my years in school no lecturer has tried that with me because they know I study hard.

“I sit in the front during examinations and my results are excellent. I also dress well and I am a committed member of the campus fellowship. So, lecturers know those who can fall. For me, it is not possible.”

Also speaking, a female lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, Uloma Hyriatta Asuzu, said some students feel they could use their bodies to get whatever they want.

‘It Is Not New, But More Pronounced These Days’
From Eric Meya, Sokoto

Sexual harassments in institutions of higher learning is not new, but there is some consensus among the people that the problem is more pronounced now than ever before.

Surprisingly, there is less condemnation of the phenomenon as was the case in the past.

A civil servant, father of two graduate sons and two undergraduate daughters, Jonathan Taru, said: “Hard times easily erode morality and there is no doubt that our present difficulties have increased our level of moral decadence.

“We cannot continue to talk as if our institutions of higher learning are only manned by randy lecturers. It takes two to tango and lecturers can only have their way when there are willing female students.

Sometimes, the female students even initiate the move by giving the lecturers the ‘come now sign.’

According to him, parents also share in the blame because they show their children by their attitude that shortcut pays, they employ all kinds of unscrupulous means to secure them admission and it will amount to self-deceit to expect those children to change overnight.

A final year student of the Sokoto State College of Education, Bright Kufre Akpan, pointed out that some male and even female students are also involved in spending money to get undeserved marks.

“It is a reflection of what is happening in the larger society. Institutions of higher learning are not kept in some germ-free closet, where they are insulated from societal ills. It is only a general moral reawakening that can permeate every segment and change our attitude for good,” he added.


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