Barely 48 hours after the expulsion of a Babcock University student over a viral sex video, Edo State Polytechnic followed suit by expelling two students for 'sex offence' similar to that of Babcock. A brief sex clip of some UNILAG students having sex around the hostel compound had equally surfaced in no distant time. Similar to these clips was another viral one involving a female student of Obafemi Awolowo University about three months ago. Not more than a week too did we see a viral video showing violent student-to-student corporal bully at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, with the students involved getting suspended also. Up to six students were suspended for cultism with as many as a 100 others on probation in OAU only last year. Except for the cultism and the FUTA bully where many of us might have a common moral ground for justice, the target of this article is not necessarily aimed at digging deep into the morals that may or may not justify the expulsion of other students involved in sex scandals, because moral question is of an eternally relative perspective.
However, we can have an empirical look into the intricacies behind the breaking and seemingly competitive series of the sexual and other provocative escapades that spring from our tertiary institutions nowadays. These intricacies involve university managements' responses to these characters as they find them worrisome for the image of their respective schools.
These days, we see students getting expelled for certain social behaviours, the causes of the expulsions differ from the common practice where students are usually expelled for defending rights or protesting policies they find critically unacceptable. The eras where students intellectually debated opinions and in turn influence national and international issues have been left. There is a paradigm shift now, the margin between what was obtainable of education in the past and what we have nowadays speaks volume in terms of quality. There is a dwindled critical consciousness and a dearth of intellectual contents - the basis for which students are not spurred to taking proactive actions to issues that really matter in the country and beyond.
Students today are mostly interested in entertainment and trending stuffs. In short, we now have many 'marlians and Kaffis' than 'Soyinkas and Achebes' in our tertiary institutions. Ideological unionism are gradually replaced with hooliganism and the national students body has become loyal to the ruling parties than to the plights of students – no thanks to the clampdowns on ideological students' unionism and rights to expression, being done by university administrators and governments.
Ironically also, the same universities today paint worries over the students becoming drug addicts and porn stars. That the schools are today privileged to the leaked sex tapes and other recorded misconducts of the students and then consequently expel them is not to glorify the disciplinary policies in place, but a pointer to a fast failing educational system. What about the unrecorded 'Marlians'? Who watches over the several students that have turned prostitutes, that are even likely patronised by some lecturers, administrators and politicians? What about the increasing number of students opting for cybercrime in a bid to survive the choking fees among other costs of being a student in Nigeria? Indeed, the universities can only fake ignorance.
The system of learning becomes more frustrating day by day; combined with the suicidal status quo of the country at large, the resultant effects continue to manifest in poor performances (mass failure), sex and money for grades, suicide attempts, and some other students take solace in gangsterism, sexual escapades, drugs and other adventures to console themselves.
Since universities in Nigeria no longer appreciate dissent and criticism from students, and the government gradually hands off qualitative funding, the universities would have to welcome whatever characters that follow.
We have seen how the dearth of critical ideas has spurred certain students of the University of Nigeria Nsukka to protest and declare prayers against witchcraft conference to be organised via centre for policy and research in the university. This they did as they chanted 'UNN belongs to 'Christ only' - what poverty of ideas!
On October 13, Harvard Law School students reportedly protested by boycotting a public lecture from an Israeli ambassador, who was to speak on legitimacy of Israelis settlement on another territory. The actions of those students reflected the critical education at work. Here in Nigeria, university authorities would have issued a threatening circular to mandate students' presence at such lecture, they can go to the extent of punishing the absentees. We have seen institutions like OAU where Deans tell students to attend entertainment shows en masse. This is not the wrong in itself, what is wrong is that we have seen the same Deans issue circulars to threaten students off political gatherings where issues affecting them and the university would to be discussed. The University of Lagos once kicked against a program where Omoyele Sowore (an alumnus of the school and a pro-democracy activist) was to speak. The same university afterwards, proudly invited the notoriously controversial MC Oluomo to a public lecture as guest speaker. This is how universities kill intellectualism and encourage hooliganism, and after this, they rush to cry over 'immoral behaviours'. University of Lagos is taking forever to investigate and sack lecturer involved in sex for grades scandal, but it hastily expelled student activist (Femi Adeyeye) and refuses to recall him despite expiration of the expulsion periods.
Many Nigerian youths and students are hardly seen today discussing or contributing to national issues that matter, neither do some of them know or have interests in the affairs that go on at the Nigerian Senate. There are no even thriving students' unionism to preoccupy them with. This is the worst scenario when compared to what young minds and students are doing across the globe. Hong Kong students and youths are holding governments accountable with months of protests. Students all over the world are acting on climate change. Our students have not seen what is wrong with social media bill and why it should be rejected even though the social media space itself is their online abode.
With the persistent clamp downs on radicalism and dissents from students, the trends of rascality in our institutions had barely begun; and in the school authorities' chase after the shadows of moral behaviours, they might have to empty the schools with expulsions. Perhaps, this emptiness might then satisfy the governments who are already out to kill public education with underfunding.
Gbenga Oloniniran is an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile - Ife. He writes from Ibadan, Oyo State, and can be reached via [email protected] on Twitter @gbenga_von