Sexual Harassment: How University of Ibadan Handles It, Says VC

 

…Afe Babalola, Others Get UI Doctorate Awards, As Ex -INEC Chairman, Jega Delivers 71st Conv. Lecture

 

 

 

 

From Toluwa Agboluaje, Ibadan

 

 

The Vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, has said the institution has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, disclosing that a post-graduate student was expelled a few months ago for the act.

Prof. Olayinka disclosed this during the quarterly media chat at the university community radio station, Diamond FM and while with journalists shortly after the chat.

The vice-chancellor said the premier university has two major structures in place to deal with the issue of sexual harassment.

He said :”There are two major structures in place. We have Gender Mainstreaming Office. In fact, last night I called the Vocal Person, Prof. Olapeju Aiyelagbe. We discussed, especially on the news that broke about two Universities in W/Africa – University of Lagos and University of Legon, Ghana.

“So we have Gender Mainstreaming Policy and also Gender Harassment Policy, which was developed when Prof. Abiola Odejide was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).

“She insisted that two bodies should not be merged; that the Sexual Harassment Policy should be separate from Gender Harassment Policy. So there are structures in place. You can imagine that UI has zero for sexual harassment. So, students have the opportunity to report. Because if report is not made it will be difficult to bring anybody to book.

“My own position is that we are not going to rewrite any new law because of a particular issue.  We can learn from experience. And if there is an existing law and someone has flouted the law, then you should be seen to be implementing the law. Otherwise you won’t be sending the right signal. So, if  any member of staff  is accused he or she will be given fair hearing.

Then if found guilty we have to look at the book because if my daughter or wife is here I won’t want her to be harassed. That is the issue. If anyone flouts the regulation that is put in place, he or she should be made to face the music. There are also instances where male lecturers will also be harassed. Even though most of time female students are at the receiving end. We have zero tolerance for harassment.

“Recently, there was one, maybe this year even at the Yoruba Language Centre. We bring some American students who come here for a short period of time. So there was a report of a student, a post-graduate student who was one of their tutors at the Centre. He was expelled a few months ago when there was a report. He came here to defend himself but we were not satisfied with his explanation.

“The students have the opportunity to blow the whistle. They may not be able to open up to me because I’m a man but we have a Gender Mainstreaming Office, which is manned by a female lecturer so that they can always confide in her. That is why the Head of the place, the Gender Vocal Person is a woman so that they can report to her. If it is an allegation the person is presumed to be innocent, he or she will be given the opportunity to make a defense. If the committee is not convinced we will apply the appropriate sanction. There is always opportunity for the person to appeal to the Governing Council. The disciplinary committee is not the final arbiter, it is the Council because all of us are employed by the Council.  It has the oversight function over our appointment, promotion and disciplinary matters.

“But as a matter of policy, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment. In the last ten or 15 years there are two documents. Both documents were reviewed this year in the light of new developments and approved by the Senate and Council. For instance, 20 years ago, social media was not that popular.

“To be forwarded is to be forearmed so that people will not end up claim ignorance. Ignorance will not be a defense. The policies are on the website which anybody can access. They are public documents”.

Speaking on the 71st convocation of the school, Olayinka disclosed that foremost legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, (ABUA), Aare Afe Babalola, Prof.  Folagbade  Aboaba, Prof. Edosein, Prof. Alex Eze will be given the honorary doctoral awards of the university and its former Vice-chancellor, Prof. Ayodele Falase will be given a fellowship award.

Some of the activities lined up for the ceremonies which would commence with a job fair  for  the students, include a convocation lecture titled: “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political System in Nigeria: What Role for Ivory Tower”. It would be delivered on November 14 by the immediate-past Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof.   Attahiru Jega.

The event will climax on November 18 with Foundation Day, Ph.D convocation and award of honorary degrees.

Also speaking on the lifting on suspension on the student unionism, Olayinka disclosed that the school management had resolved to give leadership training to the students before their election and after winners have emerged.

He added that next few weeks the student election would be held which would be electronic voting, saying the software for the e-voting was developed by students.

On Ojo Aderemi, the Student Union Government president who was expelled, Olayinka said Aderemi had taken the University to court.

“He has taken the university to court. It is be sub-judice to comment on that. If he withdraws his case from court, we will know what to do to pardon him.  He has the right to ventilate in court. We are all law-abiding”, he said.