We have heard lots of news about lecturers demanding sex from their students for grades. The one making waves right now is the case of a University of Lagos (UNILAG) lecturer exposed by BBC Africa Eye documentary for demanding sex from a ‘student’ in order to help her with admission. This documentary seems to have created a chain reaction because another lecturer has been indicted of this same offence – sex for grades – and I believe many others will be indicted soon.
This monstrous act of lecturers demanding sex, and money, from students (both the male and the female) as a prerequisite for passing, getting better grades, or having their projects supervised didn’t start today – at least it was there during my university days. The act is beginning to look like a tradition because little or nothing is being done about it. These days, students can comfortably tell you the lecturers that ask for money (and how much they demand) and the ones that demand for sex. The first orientation every new student gets (from old students) once they start lectures is what every lecturer demands for. This means that school authorities obviously know these culprits but decided to look the other way.
But I must be honest here, most of the time these students are the cause of their problems. Or, let me put it differently, sometimes these students actually want lecturers to collect money from them or have sex with them so they can give them better grades or even make them pass. Most students in the higher institutions are not there to study; they believe they can ‘sort’ their ways through. Usually, the boys are willing to bribe their way through with money while the girls opt for sex. This is one problem created by exam malpractice during WAEC and JAMB – flocking the higher institutions with students who couldn’t cope with the academic world.
Anyway, I’m not here to defend lecturers, even though being in the system made me see things the way they are (but we actually have very randy lecturers). My major concern here is how to help the victims find ways out of the situation. Here, I want to see both the students and lecturers as victims. Don’t be surprised I added lecturers to the list because I know some students that will do everything to have a lecturer sleep with them or collect money from them so as to make them pass. So, let’s just be objective here.
How to Avoid Being a Victim of Sexual Harassment
Like I said earlier, the victims here are both the students and the lecturers. So, I’ll group these tips into two – for students and for lecturers.
#Tips for Students
Being a student is enough stress already. So adding sexual harassment to the stress isn’t going to be a funny experience. Well, if you truly want to pass through school without having any lecturer victimise you, try out these tips.
Tip #1: Dress Decently:
Of course this will be my first advice. See, I’m not against any form of dressing but you have to dress decent for lectures – attending lectures should be seen as going to work. You are free to wear your bum shorts and tank tops in the evening, but please, find something good that will cover you up and wear to lectures. I personally, I’m jeans and T-shirt person. This always gave me the outlook of a serious minded person who knows what she came for, and it gives me much needed freedom to run around during lecture period. Maybe you should try it too.
Tip #2: Be Informed
What I mean here is that you shouldn’t play the ‘mugu’ or, should I say ‘mumu’. Like I stated earlier, once you resume lectures as a fresher, the old students will fill you up on the attitudes of all your lecturers. This should be a guide for you. Know the lecturers to approach and the ones to avoid. Don’t play the fool. If you make the mistake of falling into the trap of the lecturers to avoid, you may need more than you know to get yourself out of it. Be wise.
Tip #3: Choose Friends Wisely
I stated earlier that some students came into the school with a clear intention to sleep or pay their way through school. If you make the mistake of moving in the midst of this type of students, you are going to end up a fresh meat for randy lecturers. Choose your friends and company wisely. Look for those that know why they are in school. Don’t be deceived by flashiness and gaiety, that’s not why you are there.
Tip #4: Study Hard
Most victims of sexual harassment are students that are academically unsound. It is easier to lure a student that failed into a hotel room than to drag an intelligent one there. Make sure you study hard and do all your assignments; don’t give room for your lecturer to call you out among the people that will come to his office because they failed.
Tip #5: Be Bold and Assertive
Lecturers that demand for sex from their students are bullies; and bullies don’t feel comfortable with assertive and bold people. If your lecturer starts using suggestive languages, look him straight in the eye and tell him that you don’t understand and that he should please explain exactly what he means in clear terms. Believe me when I say that he will chicken out, unless he is under the influence of drugs.
Tip #6: Visit Lecturers in Companies
Sometimes I wonder why a female student will comfortably walk into a male lecturer’s office, while he is alone, and close the door. This is not appropriate (even if she closed the door because of the AC). Please, if you must visit your male lecturers, do that with other student or students, don’t go alone. In fact the best time to visit when there are so many students in his office so you can sort out whatever it is in the presence of others. If he asks you to wait till he sorts out every other person, find someone to wait with you. If he insists that you come in alone, ask your friend or friends to wait at the door for you, and ensure that the lecturer knows that your friends are at the door. If this lecturer actually wanted to ask you for sex, he will not do it then. If he invites you again, follow this method and continue like this until he turns himself into a laughing stock.
Tip #7: Talk to Female Lecturers
If you find yourself in a web where you can’t drag yourself out without help, seek out a female lecturer. Even if she’s not a senior lecturer she will know what to do. She will not confront her colleague but her advice will help you out of the web. Don’t wait till it is too late to do this. And by the way, telling your parents to come to the school won’t solve your problem, it may only compound it.
#Tips for Lecturers
I stated above that lecturers are also victims of sexual harassment. Sometimes students throw themselves at them and those that don’t know how to control themselves lose it. The tips I’m about to list out here isn’t for imbibing self-control. They are tips that will help lecturers keep themselves away from the danger of being indicted for sexually harassing their students (that is, those that aren’t randy o). So, if you just want to do your job and go back to your family, study these tips:
Tip #a: Dictate Dress Code for Your Classes
I could remember my days in UNIZIK, you don’t dare come into the lecture hall with some kind of dressing. Some lecturers aren’t bothered with what we wear, but we have like two of them that don’t tolerate what they see as indecent dressing (I wonder what they will say when they see how our girls dress these days. Lol). So, you as a lecturer have the right to tell the students how to dress in your class – at least you can do that for now. So, make use of this and keep out of trouble.
Tip #b: Have Stipulated Office Period
You need to give a particular time for students to come to your office. For example you can ask that all the students that need to see you should be in your office between 1 to 3 pm. Anybody that misses that period should wait for another day. Follow this rule and avoid trouble.
Tip #c: Use Open Door Policy
See, forget the air conditioner. Once it is visiting hour for students, leave your door open. There is nothing confidential that you should discuss with your students that will make you close the door. Please, run from the devil by making sure that everybody sees what you are doing in your office unless you are alone.
Tip #d: Share Office with a Female Colleague
Sharing an office with her isn’t just enough, let the students’ visiting period be when she’s around. This will help you manage your self-control as well make the students that have the intention of putting you into trouble stay away.
Tip #e: Keep Students at Arm’s Length
Most times we start getting familiar with our students. They visit us at homes and make themselves comfortable with our families. They even invite us for hangouts. Well, there’s nothing bad about that. But, to avoid trouble, treat your students as a job – no personal touches. When they graduate, they can then start getting familiar with you and your family. Note that this is different if your spouse or family members have been familiar with the student, or that the student is a neighbour, or something like that. But even at that, don’t get too personal with your students.
Tip #f: Make Mode of Contacts Formal
I don’t see anything wrong with students calling or messaging their lecturers; but if you don’t draw a line on how they do that they might put you into trouble. So I suggest that you ask your students to contact you through email or WhatsApp, and give them time they should reach you. Avoid late night calls and chats; use formal tones while discussing with them; get a particular phone number they can reach you through and switch it off when you enter ‘unholy hour’.
School managements shouldn’t fold their hands and pretend that all is well when they know that isn’t true. They should find ways to minimise sexual harassment and extortions in their schools because it happens in every school. They should set up committees and panels that will investigate and handle cases such as these and open a window through which students (and lecturers too) can report such cases. Indicted culprits should be severely dealt with.
Let’s sanitise our education system.