Vice Chancellor Florence Obi And Her Team: Shame On Them For University Late Inaction And Compromised Student Safety

By Prof John Egbeazien Oshodi
L-R:  Vice-Chancellor Florence Obi, University of Calabar & Protesting good students
L-R: Vice-Chancellor Florence Obi, University of Calabar & Protesting good students

The university's late action and the compromise of student safety, according to this psychologist, are both the vice chancellors and her team's fault.

Allow me, Vice Chancellor Obi of the University of Calabar, to offer a detailed review of the issues, demands, and solutions required to address the significant issue of sexual misconduct in academic settings. This note highlights the critical need for transformation, transparency, and responsibility to safeguard students' safety and well-being.

Vice Chancellor Obi, tell Nigerians, particularly those who believe in the ideas of education and justice, why they should not only refrain from throwing shame on you and previous and current administrations, but also join their voices in honoring the bravery of the Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar.

These students met at the school's administrative complex, united by a similar dedication to justice and equality, to vehemently condemn the alleged sexual harassment perpetrated by a lecturer, Prof. Cyril Ndifon. The students' brave acts highlight the critical need for openness, accountability, and a shift in cultural norms within our prestigious educational institutions.

Many instances abound in the history of Nigerian leadership where people in power have taken the typical Nigerian for granted. This protest, on the other hand, has served as a potent catalyst, rousing you and your administration from any slumber of indifference. 'Enough of Law school list manipulation,' 'Prof Ndifon must go for our sanity,' 'Law girls are not Bonaza, Prof Ndifon should stop grabbing us,' and 'The faculty of law is not a brothel,' fervent chants of "enough is enough" reverberated across the campus, echoing the sentiments of countless others who seek a just and secure educational environment.

Vice Chancellor Obi, during Professor Ivara Esu's tenure as Vice Chancellor in 2015, Prof. Cyril Ndifon was suspended for allegedly sexually assaulting a 20-year-old 400-level student. The heinous assault allegedly occurred in his private office on the uppermost floor of the faculty building.

Nonetheless, Vice Chancellor Obi, despite this background, your administration chose to restore Prof. Cyril Ndifon into the academic fold in 2022, casting a cloud of confusion and anxiety over your leadership's decision-making.

The revelations, Vice Chancellor Obi, do not stop there. Unbeknownst to you, tucked inside the fabric of your institution's halls is the personal story of a female student who was victimized by sexual exploitation. Thomas Ekpang, another former university instructor, allegedly threatened her with a frightening ultimatum: unless she agreed to his demands for sexual favors, her dreams of becoming a lawyer would be dashed. This coercion harmed her academic career, causing her to struggle with a single course for years and extending her law school tenure to an agonizing nine years.

The writer's plight, Vice Chancellor Obi, goes beyond personal experience; it reflects a common concern with the paucity of institutional assistance when it comes to exposing such misbehavior. Despite her brave petitions to the Dean and Vice-Chancellor, no action was taken to punish the predatory instructor.

Vice Chancellor Obi, her experience is not unique; a culture of secrecy and terror has muffled countless voices, trapping victims in a web of intimidation and institutional inactivity.

The troubling reality, Vice Chancellor Obi, is that a pattern of quiet and unaccountability appears to have formed in which the institution's awareness of alleged misconduct is met with a veil of silence and unaccountability. This disturbing cover-up, whether intentional or not, fosters a culture of impunity, allowing similar behavior to flourish unchecked. As you stand at the helm of the university, a pressing issue arises: Why did it take the ruckus of student protests to get you and your administration to act?

It is a question that requires an answer not only from you, but from every educational leader. Why have people like Prof. Cyril Ndifon and Thomas Ekpang been allowed to continue their crimes with apparent impunity for so long?

Vice Chancellor Obi, how long has the loud voice of justice and equity been silenced? What motivated your management to allow their heinous conduct to go unnoticed until this student protest erupted?

Vice Chancellor Obi, you must recognize that this demonstration has broken the hush. Students who formerly hid in terror are now rising as change agents, their voices echoing across the country.

Vice Chancellor Obi, there is a tragic element of your institution's history that must not be spoken about, and these brave and fearless students have revealed it. Professor Cyril Ndifon's suspension is a step in the right direction, but it has taken far too long. The true victors are the students, whose tenacity in the face of institutional apathy exposed the weaknesses in those defenses. You and your administration are a disgrace.

Vice Chancellor Obi, as someone with background in social sciences who has traveled the educational path and climbed through the ranks, you have a unique awareness of the significant influence a conducive learning environment may have on the nation's future. The abrupt suspension of Prof. Cyril Ndifon should not be regarded as a win because it highlights the long period in which his activities were allowed.

The genuine success here, Vice Chancellor Obi, I repeat rests in the perseverance of a small group of law students who, by their unyielding spirit, managed to bring global attention to the deeply embedded issue of sexual harassment within your university.

Do not pretend to be ignorant of the past, Vice Chancellor Obi. The suspension of Prof. Cyril Ndifon by your predecessor, Professor Ivara Esu, in 2015 for alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old 400-level student portrays a picture of a long-known but under-addressed problem. The episode, which took place within the sanctity of his private office above the faculty building, left a mark on the institution's history. To make matters worse, his reinstatement in 2022 under your supervision rekindles the flames of disillusionment and dismay.

Vice Chancellor Obi, the protest that has echoed across campus and beyond is a reaction to this unsettling background, to the arrogance of reinstalling a man with such a tainted record. Students are calling for justice, responsibility, and a sea change in the institutional culture that has allowed these injustices to persist.

Vice Chancellor Obi, as a leader, you have the ability tofacilitate this change, to shape a future in which such incidents do not thrive.

Recognize, Vice Chancellor Obi, that sexual offenders, particularly those who target children and young adults, frequently have distinct personality traits and behavioral tendencies that drive their acts. These features can act as warning signs for early detection, intervention, and prevention.

Understanding the challenges of dealing with sexual offenders, Vice Chancellor Obi, entails knowing the varied features and types that exist within this terrible phenomenon. These characteristics shed light on the difficulties of changing such people's behavior. Here are a few examples.

Opportunistic offenders are those who do not plan their offenses in advance and instead take advantage of immediate opportunities. Their activities are frequently impulsive, with no history of planned conduct.

Fixated offenders have a strong sexual attraction for minors and may target them specifically. They may apply grooming strategies over the years and cultivate long-standing desires regarding youngsters.

While some regressed offenders may have previously displayed normal sexual conduct, certain conditions, such as stress, substance misuse, or relationship troubles, can lead to regressed offenders engaging in abusive activities.

Pedophiles are defined by their persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent youngsters. They may be drawn to specific age groups and like to exploit victims through grooming and manipulation.

Non-familial offenders target people who are not members of their family. They take use of chances in their neighborhoods, schools, jobs, or social clubs.

These people victimize their own family members, which may include spouses, children, or other relatives. Their activities may include instances of familial sexual abuse.

Offenders involved in child pornography create, distribute, consume, or possess explicit materials involving minors. They contribute to child exploitation despite not having direct physical touch with victims.

Internet/Social Media Offenders, these criminals exploit youngsters through online platforms. Online grooming, solicitation, and sexting are all examples of activities.

Offenders who like exercising power and control over victims are known as power and control offenders. To attain their goals, they may utilize manipulation, sadistic conduct, and emotional abuse.

Situational Offenders are those who engage in inappropriate sexual activity under specific conditions. These situations may include intoxication or poor judgment, both of which have an impact on their conduct.

Serial sex offenders are those who are known to commit repeated offenses over a long period of time. They frequently exhibit escalation and recidivism patterns.

Sexual offenders commonly utilize manipulative methods to influence and coerce their victims. They exploit weaknesses and apply deceptive psychological methods to achieve their goals.

Offenders may utilize grooming techniques to gain the confidence and rapport of their victims. The purpose of these tactics is to condition victims to accept abusive behavior.

Some sex criminals don't consider the consequences of their actions before acting on instinct. They may struggle to keep their cool and behave rashly regardless of the legal or personal consequences.

Sexual offenders frequently lack empathy. They are unconcerned about the psychological impact their actions have on others and instead act on their own whims.

Offenders frequently utilize their authority and trustworthiness to blur the barriers between their personal and professional life in order to manipulate others.

Many sex criminals are able to rationalize their behavior. They may try to deflect blame or minimize the harm they do.

Sexual offenders frequently express little to no remorse for their actions, which is a distinguishing feature of this group. Only when they are caught or confronted with punishment will they admit culpability.

Many sexual offenders are likely to perpetrate fresh offenses. If they do not receive appropriate assistance, they may revert to their abusive behavior.

Coercion is commonly used in sexual attacks. Offenders use threats, intimidation, and manipulation to force victims to submit.

Offenders may often go to great lengths to disguise their behavior, creating an external air of normalcy in order to avoid detection.

Even if evidence is offered, the culprit is likely to deny or minimize the gravity of their actions.

Offenders may cut off their victims' social relationships, making it more difficult for them to seek help.

Offenders frequently consider victims as a means to a purpose, rather than as individuals with rights and feelings of their own.

Many sexual offenders have a strong feeling of entitlement and believe they have the right to have sexual relations with anyone, regardless of whether or not the other person wants or is comfortable with it.

Offenders may engage in cognitive distortions such as exaggerating the severity of their victims' emotions or failing to accept responsibility for the harm they have inflicted.

Because some criminals have trouble developing healthy, personal connections with consenting individuals, they resort to exploiting weak people.

Offenders' difficulties in managing their emotions may contribute to their proclivity to act destructively on impulse.

Many sexual offenders exhibit narcissistic characteristics such as high self-esteem, difficulties empathizing with others, and an insatiable desire for praise and admiration. Because of these characteristics, people often believe they have the right to do whatever they want, regardless of the repercussions to themselves or others. Narcissistic sexual offenders may deceive and exploit others in order to acquire what they want and maintain their false sense of self-worth.

Vice Chancellor Obi, the path to changing campus safety necessitates a multifaceted approach. Advocating for prompt action, assisting victims, and committing to cultural change must become the foundation of your organization.

Implement comprehensive plans that go beyond words on paper, Vice Chancellor Obi. Transparent recruiting practices, employee training, and victim support programs must be genuine and unwavering promises.

Vice Chancellor Obi, you recognize the need to work with law enforcement and judicial personnel who value justice over compromise. We can ensure that the pursuit of justice is not hampered by bribery or dishonesty if we work together.

Pay attention, Vice Chancellor Obi, to the need for accountability and repercussions. Make certain that individuals who do harm are held accountable, sending a clear message that such behavior will not be accepted within your organization.

Vice Chancellor Obi, it is time to revitalize the safety culture. Involve the entire university community in this shift, creating an environment that promotes respect, inclusivity, and well-being.

The appeal for change, Vice Chancellor Obi, is a group effort. Your administration may prepare the road for a future where sexual misbehavior does not taint the educational experience by engaging in continuous review and improvement.

Understanding these disparities, Vice Chancellor Obi, is critical in addressing the various issues related with changing the conduct of sex offenders. This category's variability highlights the significance of personalized treatments and comprehensive policies aimed at ensuring prevention, accountability, and a safer environment within academic institutions. By recognizing these sorts, we go closer to removing the specter of sexual misconduct that plagues our campuses.

Propose a comprehensive approach to tackling sexual misbehavior on college campuses:

In order to address such charges, institutions must take prompt and appropriate action, emphasizing the need for accountability, openness, and a commitment to a safe learning environment.

Emphasize the importance of offering support for victims and survivors of misconduct by making support services available and ensuring that their voices are heard.

Encourage university management to be accountable for their decisions and actions, especially when dealing with sensitive and serious issues such as sexual harassment and abuse.

Suggest that the school promotes a cultural change that prioritizes student safety and well-being, as well as a dedication to ethical behavior and integrity.

Create and put in place detailed policies that define and prohibit sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. These policies should specify reporting systems, investigative procedures, and offender penalties.

Perform extensive background checks on all academics, employees, and volunteers, particularly those who have direct contact with students. Establish transparent and consistent hiring procedures that include in-depth interviews, reference checks, and assessments of individuals' fitness for occupations that require involvement with vulnerable groups.

Provide staff and faculty with frequent training on spotting indicators of inappropriate behavior and their role in building a safe and respectful environment.

As part of student orientation programs, include information on university policies, reporting methods, and support resources.

Establish clear and multiple reporting channels for occurrences, including anonymous reporting alternatives.

Ensure that reported occurrences are investigated promptly and impartially, employing qualified employees such as Title IX coordinators.

When an occurrence may include criminal action, work cooperatively with law enforcement.

Apply appropriate penalties to offenders in accordance with university policy and applicable legislation. Provide counseling or therapy programs to persons who demonstrate troubling conduct in order to address underlying concerns.

To prevent further injury, implement surveillance and restrictions on the interactions of individuals with a history of violations.

Create a culture that values safety, respect, and inclusion. Regular communication on anti-harassment policies and attempts to avoid misconduct are part of this.

Engage the whole university community in sexual misconduct prevention activities, including students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Implement these initiatives to make schools safer and more accountable by providing required student reporting training, comprehensive orientation, a clear faculty code of conduct, ethics workshops, whistleblower protections, multiple reporting channels, confidential help services, ongoing education efforts for students, transparent teacher misconduct investigations, and regular policy reviews to ensure effectiveness and responsiveness, ultimately fostering a safer, responsible, and ethical educational environment.

Review rules and processes on a regular basis and make required modifications based on feedback, experiences, and changing legal standards.

These factors can pave the path for a safer educational environment, help survivors get justice, and send a clear message that the period of silence and impunity is ended.

Vice Chancellor Obi recognizes the chance to demolish a culture of silence and inaction as society's focus falls on colleges. Accept the need for transformation, recognize the necessity of change, and ensure that students can pursue their education without fear of sexual assault.

Praise the good students once more, whose cries were heard all around the world. Your administration is a disgrace. I hope you, your team, and the leaders of other universities and higher education institutions learn from all of these societal concerns, particularly this one.

The moment has arrived for you and other university leaders to act on all I've mentioned in this note.

Psychologist John Egbeazien Oshodi

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi, born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria, is an American-based police and prison scientist, forensic/clinical psychologist, and legal psychologist. He is the founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation for Psychological Health in Nigeria, and he provides forensic-clinical psychological services to several government organizations in the United States. He is currently a contributing faculty member at Nexus International University, WeldiosUniversity, Walden University, and Nova Southeastern University. [email protected]

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