Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.
Earlier this year, I had a conversation with a student of Covenant University, and he talked about how tedious the school policies are and his run-in with the school management. One take-away from that conversation was that it is almost impossible to avoid getting into some sort of trouble if you study at the school. So, for Aluta and Chill this week, I thought to speak to a couple of current and past students and get them to talk about a time they had a run-in with members of the school management.
Beatrice – I got in trouble because my friend’s button was undone.
We had just finished service at the chapel and I was walking to a class with a friend. We ran into the dean, but I didn’t think I had anything to worry about. I was dressed in appropriate clothes and buttoned up to the neck, so I was good with the dress code. But I think one of my friend’s buttons was undone and the Dean doesn’t miss such things. Then I heard his voice fill the air, asking my friend to give him her ID card.
I didn’t think it was my business, but apparently it was. He called me back as I was walking away and asked for my ID card too. He collected the cards and sent us to class. After our class was over, we went to the Student Affairs office. He gave us an offence form and he instructed us to write “gross insubordination” as our offence. That was very confusing. I faced the SDC afterwards. Luckily, I didn’t get into more trouble because I had no priors. I got off with a letter of warning.
Alice – I got in trouble for “kissing my boyfriend” even though we were several feet apart.
This happened in my third year. It was the departure service night — it’s this prayer thing we do at the end of the semester before we go home. The service had ended and I was hanging out with my boyfriend. Then this hall officer appeared out of nowhere and claimed that she saw us kissing. That was absurd because we put a good distance between us. She insisted on her stance — that there was a picture she took of us in the act.
There was no picture and we knew that. We asked her to show us the picture. Of course, she couldn’t, so she had to let us go. I returned to school the following semester and found out that she was my hall officer. I didn’t think much about it or the situation that happened the previous semester. One day, I was going to church when she called me, and without a word, she gave me an offence form to fill. She charged me with gross insubordination and dress code violation, but I knew what it was all about. Lucky for me, it never got processed.
Gbenga – Someone on my floor was apparently smoking weed, so they took all of us on the floor for a test.
It was 1 am, but most of my coursemates were still awake — we were studying for a major test we had in a few hours. Next thing we knew, guys in suits were knocking on doors and calling everyone on our floor to come out of their rooms.
Apparently they had gotten a tip that someone on our floor had been smoking weed, so they took all of us to get tested for drugs. We were stuck there for hours and by the time they finally let us go, it was time for class. Most of us failed that test.
Muyiwa – I got in trouble for talking in the chapel.
It was a Thursday evening and I was at the chapel. Papa came to preach, so the MSS guys — they are the school security people — were so extra that day. I was having a discussion with a couple of friends. One of the hall officers knew me and he singled me out. Two of them took me to the Head of MSS. He asked for my name, and I told him, but for some reason, he thought I was lying.
I didn’t have my ID card on me and that was all he needed to book me. Later, I got called to face the Student Disciplinary Committee to answer for chapel misconduct. It was just weird because I wasn’t the only one in the chapel on that day. After that incident, I sort of became a target and they would come into my room any time they wanted to check if I had a bible. And that made me very uncomfortable.
Ann – I never got in trouble even though I violated a lot of their rules.
I never got into trouble in school, never even got to see the popular offence form people had to fill when they got into trouble. And no. I wasn’t a model student, I skipped classes, skipped chapel services, violated dress code rules a couple of times, and I even left school without exeat. But I never got caught doing any of those.
However, an event that I’ll never forget during my stay in CU was the departure service in my first year. The matriculation ceremony held earlier and we had spent most of the week doing mid-semester tests. I didn’t think the departure service was going to be serious. It took a lot to fight the urge to stay in bed and sleep instead. I got to the chapel and everyone was basically lazying around.
In a minute, everything suddenly became chaotic. I saw students running around. Some were even trying to get in through the windows. The Chancellor took to the stage and gave an angry speech. The part I’ll never forget was when he said: “If anyone makes a sound, the curse of the Lord will be upon them.” I’d never seen a place go grave silent in seconds. The members of the student affairs department took over from there, going round to check if students were compliant with dress codes rules and if people had their bibles and chapel note (Actual hard copy bible and note.) I didn’t think it was possible for a bible to look like a 60 leaves exercise book until that day.
It was just really stressful and I was so relieved when the whole thing ended. But it hadn’t really ended. The following day, more than 200 students were suspended. Just like that.
*All names have been changed to protect the identities of the subjects.
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