EDITORIAL: LOOK WHO STOPPED BY AT THE CONGRESS!
History was made on Monday, May 24, 2021, as students and student leaders gathered online and offline for the first-ever congress since May 2017. That time, the SUB foyer was packed with students aggrieved on various matters. Top on the list that day was the UI’s failure to produce ID cards for the second consecutive academic year.
Cutting a long story short, the actions and inactions of that congress led up to the May 29 ID card protest. The Students’ Union was unceremonially proscribed, the school was shut for about eight weeks, and some student leaders were made to face the music.
Many of those who stood on that ground that day have graduated today. But those who listened to this week’s congress or attended physically will understand that a lot has changed in these four years. In muffled tones and less subtle hints, many students already ruled out the idea of a protest. Everyone who has experienced this school for at least one academic session would understand why.
Interestingly, the Deputy Dean of Students, Dr Demola Lewis, was also swift to remind the students that school closure was the next thing to happen if the congress favoured a protest. Oh, yes! The Deputy Dean of Students was allowed into a students’ congress. In fact, they found his session quite fascinating and interactive, although it was counterproductive to the agenda of the congress.
The “interactive session” went on for about a third of the entire time of the congress. It ended with a big round of applause from the student leaders physically present. Why was a congress called if it was going to be another student leaders-management meeting?
Okay. Let out the sigh. Did you also think there were sides to this struggle? Or that we were trying to compel the Management to reduce the accommodation fee? I felt so too. In retrospect, we clearly looked like the compelled ones there. The cause seems more likely to be futile, and it was not even because the Deputy Dean stopped by. I mean, he is just doing his job. I cannot say the same for the student leaders, however.
Against the popular interest of students, in jittering voices and incohesive words, many student leaders pitched their tents with the Management. They justified their stance with a lot less logical and cheap reasons. They cited the insecurity off-campus and overall hike of things in the country. One appalling part is that these are the people that represent us before the Management.
More seriously, if they could advocate for the Management in front of the students they represent behind closed doors, one would wonder what happens when we are not listening. Obviously – and disappointingly so – that most students leaders are not even on the students’ side.
Oh, somewhere along the line, someone from the Oyo State Government also stopped by to talk. The Special Adviser on Students’ Affairs to the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Oloyede Victor spoke on collaborative opportunities with the state government. At this point, the congress should have just been called a student leaders’ summit.
Fingers remain crossed as the Students’ Union now has to table students’ decision before the Management on how a whooping sum of 6,000 naira should be removed from the intended accommodation fee for about half-a-session. Hilariously, we don’t have a bargaining chip. So, we are just going with “Management, na beg we dey beg. let’s pay 80%.”
But the fact remains that the Deputy Dean of the Students and the SA to the state governor graced the congress. Many bad student leaders stopped by too.