Vice Chancellor Sam Uniamikogbo, Reconsider Sanctions on Student Judith Okosun of the Ambrose Alli University
Clearly the frenzy triggered by Engineer Peter Otubu and student Judith Okosun in July, 2010 which not long ago rocked the institution just before the very recent students 'protest certainly warranted a very strong administrative action to serve as a huge deterrence, and you have done so, fully.
As you may know, I also called for some type of crisis management in my previous writing, by recommending some form of crisis counseling which I hope was considered.
Sir, the recent news of Engr. Peter Otubu's dismissal from the institution is greatly welcomed as it demonstrates a leadership style that is helpful in aggressively bringing professionalism and quality assurance back to university governance. Mr. Otubu's action was a clear sign of miscarriage of academic integrity.
Sir, Judith Okosun, the 400-level Mechanical Engineering student reportedly got a suspension of six semesters, and all reasonable minds will agree that the student certainly needed to be sanctioned as your administration has noted in regards to the reality that Judith “was aware of the university's rules and regulations and once any student violates any of the rules, that student will be disciplined.'' Any reasonable person will certainly agrees with you.
But here is the problem; this is not the first time that a lecturer had demanded sex from students for grades, as the now former engineering lecturer once helped the university authorities to stop a lecturer who was in a hotel to prepare his grade book using the mode of sexual molestation of students as a guide.
For those of us with experience in academic leadership and who see the world through the prism of human psychology, it is generally accepted that a professor at all times must avoid lapses in judgment or shun lack of control when involved in any type of student situation.
Sir, you will agree that a university instructor is far more powerful within the halls of any school; he or she is way more matured, and less socially awkward than any student. And in his or her relationship with students the spirit of legal and moral responsibilities must be his or her guide in order to protect a student, no matter how troubled is the student.
Sir, even when you consider the fact that there are students that are more socially sophisticated, physically advanced or romantically as well as sexually experienced than an instructor, it is a serious ethical breach for a lecturer not to act as a lecturer!
Sir, my point is simple, in any teacher/student connection the student by history and the law, is the vulnerable partner.
This entire issue, however , is poisoned by societal challenges in a country like Nigeria where the powerful prey on the weak due to an ingrained spirit of bribery, mistrust, exploitation, poor policing, and weak legal penalties, as a consequence, leaving institutions like the universities closed-in, trapped in, stuck in the middle and helpless.
The Peter Otubu and Judith Okosun sexual saga is a latent, or even a direct symptom of limited funds, lack of ethical teachers, deficient classrooms, and poor learning resources as these factors add up to adversely affect the institutional health and educational environment of higher institutions in a very challenging nation like Nigeria.
Many universities lack the resources to focus on professional development and training of lecturers, as this is the main way to strengthen an educational community like yours.
Sir, as an academic yourself, you will agree that to adequately modify expectations and attitudes of both students and instructors as it relates to the current case especially, constant training and brush-up are required to steadily enhance faculty/staff quality. It is important that all instructors become certified through mandated completion of trainings in the areas of sexual harassment prevention, and student education privacy.
Sir you will agree that the almost lifeless infrastructures that currently exist in schools like yours have certainly contributed the chronicity of stressors like the Otubu and Okosun mischief.
To enhance institutional effectiveness, especially for the students, efficient water flow, stable electrical power and video monitors are needed to ensure safety and security for all.
To the disadvantage of the university community, the institutional environment lacks functional basic medical and mental health care services that are required to help provide stress counseling and physical examinations. Also, lacking are recreational facilities within the universities and students' activity centers that meet international standards. As such, some students and even some instructors find themselves responding to various stressors by turning to prostitution, kidnapping and cultism as coping methods.
Sir, I humbly as that the school authorities provide Judith Okosun a rehabilitation plan that meets her counseling needs as it relates to her problems thereby helping to address her character weakness, and not just the punishment aspects of this case.
Sir, using your discretion, she should be asked to immediately write a letter of apology to the entire school, a hand written 2000 words while in therapy and the reported suspension of six semesters should be reduced to two semesters.
Thank you or “Obulu” for all you are doing in the area of academic leadership.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College - North Campus, Florida.