OAU’s NEW POLICY TO REMOVE THE RIGHTS OF RETURNING STUDENTS TO ACCOMODATION ON CAMPUS IS BACKWARD AND UNACCEPTABLE
- For restoration of independent students union now!
By Dunnex Samuel, Acting Coordinator, ERC
It is no longer news that the OAU authorities are planning to completely withdraw the rights of all stale students to reside on campus’s hostels. According to a statement recently issued by the Dean, Division of Students’ Affairs(DSA), ‘stalites’ will no longer be entitled to campus accommodation, which is usually competed for through a balloting process.
It is now crystal clear that the Ogunmodede-management has no interest in resolving the accommodation problem of the University. Rather cravenly, the management is running away from it, while leaving the majority of students to the hardships that come with the alternative and terrible accommodation in Ife town.
Many would recall that, in 2018, the VC Ogunbodede’s justification for viciously chasing more than 70% of the student population to town was that he was trying to resolve the age-long problem of accommodation. However, since the implementation of this policy, there has been no foundation laid for a new campus hostel. Since the 2018 exodus to town, students have been made sufferers of armed robberies, rape, flood, and an increased cost of living; which have all become the hallmarks of the banishment of a large number of returning students to town.
Almost a year ago, the university community was thrown into mourning over the death of a student, Babatola Abiodun, who was murdered in a robbery attack in town. Following the experience of such tragic event, one would expect a reversal of the accommodation policy that has exposed students to such risks; but the present plan to totally eject from the halls of residence the handful returning students still on campus highlights the indifference of the management to the troubles of the students.
The culture of on-campus hostel accommodation is integral to the features of Great Ife – including academic excellence, security of students’ lives and properties, cultist-free atmosphere and serious attitude to learning. A management committed to the progress of the institution would have been expected to prioritise the accommodation needs of students. The Ogunmodede led authorities run away from it, and push students to harm’s way, apparently in order to spend university resources on self-serving and frivolous ventures. Is it not disturbing that the same university management that has taken no visible action to build more hostels, since the last ones were built in the 90s, is presently constructing its fourth senate building?
The management enjoys better the prestige of working from posh offices than providing conducive learning facilities for the students. The management sure understands what is good for it; but completely insensitive to the pains and learning necessities of students. The wastage of university resources, misplaced priorities, and the turning of students into cannon fodders are the advantages which the proscription of the union has conferred on a vicious management. The need for the restoration of the students’ union cannot be overemphasized as it is the only way students’ can defend their collective interest.
As a matter of fact, the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of this policy is obvious. It is a clear attempt to divide the student populace along the line of academic levels, hence, making it appear as a favorable policy to the fresh students. However, it is imperative that fresh students are not deceived. Sooner than later when they become stale students themselves, they too will be banished to the harmful conditions of living off campus. Therefore the present struggle against the divisive accommodation policy should not be seen as exclusive to stalites, but as a struggle to save the waning glory of our institution and the lives of students.
As time and events have proven, the OAU accommodation crisis cannot be resolved by chasing students to town, it can only be effectively resolved by building more hostels on campus. OAU has more than enough land space and funds to build hostels if it is made the priority of the authorities and the resources of the university are judiciously spent. However, top members of the authorities, who have private hostels in town, and charge high rents for it, will never consider building hostels on campus a priority. That is how self interest works. That is why a vibrant and independent students’ union is necessary to protect our interests against the selfish interests of our authorities. This is also why while the ERC fights for adequate funding of public education at all levels we also call for the democratic running of schools involving elected representatives of education workers unions, both academic and non-academic, and students’ union in all decision making bodies of schools from committees to the council. This is to ensure that how the resources of schools are allocated will be democratically decided.
Historically, the university management has always attempted to introduce tougher anti-students’ policies but a united resistance from students have always defeated such plans. It is worthy to mention that students in previous generations organised successful fights against fee hikes, poor welfare, tyranny and many other anti-students policies. The recent accommodation policy must not be an exception and it must be resisted by all students.