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SECURING A BED-SPACE IN UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN: A MATTER OF WHO YOU HAVE THE DAFAULT STATE OF AN AVERAGE UI STUDENT

By: Ayeku Kehinde

He’s just a simple guy who agitates on nothing as long as two things are available: a place to hide his head comfortably, and a food to eat when hungry. It may be argued that those things aren’t unique as every other average human being also desires such because they are essential. Well, that’s quite true, but what makes his unique is the fact that he likes those two things to be legit. That’s his principle. Bringing it down more closely, he likes to live in his own room he paid for as against squatting, and he also likes to cook his own food personally, as against sharing food with his colleagues, or doing some composition in cooking.

ANALYSIS OF THE FACTS

He was to fight the battle again, the battle which is fought with the strong tools. The thought of how to scale through was what overwhelmed him few weeks before resumption and afterwards. He didn’t know anyone among the big guns of the Institution, which would have at least put him at an advantage side in the course of the battle. But he was helpless, not hopeless. His hope was hinged on the promise the President of the Literary and Debating Society of his hall, and the Editor-in-Chief of the press organization of his hall gave him, that he would certainly secure a bed-space.

15th of February, 2016, he came back to school. All through the three hours journey from Lagos to Ibadan, his mind was busy doing different calculations on where he would stay pending the time he would be given a bed space. He already called one of his friends staying at Agbowo, and the latter had given approval, but Agbowo was not his type. He’s so used to the hall that he couldn’t think of living outside the school throughout his stay in UI.

Fortunately for him, as soon as he arrived in Mellanby Hall, he met one of the porters, a very good friend of his, who was patient enough to listen to his predicament and to lend a helping hand. The porter gave him the key to his former room subject to a condition that he would leave when freshers were allocated there. He was happy because the temporary room given him was legit; still maintaining his principle.

His happiness didn’t last for more than a week as the condition given by the porter was fulfilled exactly one week after being given the key. He was left with the option of either breaking his principle by resulting to squatting or going to live outside the school, because information reaching him was that stalites would not be given accommodation until the seventh week in Mellanby hall. He was faced with what is called ‘necessity’ in Law, and he chose the lesser evil by squatting with the freshers.

This is the untimely hardship an average UITE, who is a stalite goes through every session. Even the finalists still taste the bitter concoction cooked by the school managements by having to stay for about two weeks before what they are entitled to, is given them.

The situation is even worse for the ladies who have more stringent rules in their halls of residence, the two Queens. As soon as the session ends, everyone is mandated to vacate the rooms with their belongings and must never be found there unless given accommodation the following session. The damsels never get to face the invidious situation of choosing to squat or find other alternatives outside the halls of residence. The latter is usually their only option.

It is however understandable that the halls of residence in University of Ibadan are not enough to cater for all the students. It is also understandable that it is a long standing principle of the Institution that bed-space is not guaranteed for every stalite. But, it becomes very difficult to comprehend when the few slots are given to those who have the big guns of the University at their back and not to those who contribute to the halls intellectually. It is also a very nauseating thing where some faculties or departments are given preferential treatment in the allocation of rooms. And the worst of it all comes from the fact that the so called accommodation process for stalites does not begin until the end of the 5th week of resumption, when lectures and other important academic activities would have begun intensely.

A very good friend of mine resident in Mellanby Hall and a member of the Literary and Debating society of the hall met with the authorities of the hall in order to ensure that every member of the society secured a bed-space. While in the course of doing this, one of the hall supervisors told him in my presence that “Hmm, we will have you in mind, but you know that Education and Agriculture students have to be considered first.” If someone else had told me this, perhaps I would have ignored it, but the statement was made right in my presence. Why should students of some faculties or departments, who are just like any other student in the same Institution, be at the top of the ladder while the LnD, or other societies giving to the hall be left out?

The Press is not just worth discussing at all. Many press men who are currently in 300 level and other levels inclusive, joined the press organization of their hall for the sole purpose of securing accommodation. But sadly, their hopes were dashed when the reality dawned on them; when they saw that getting accommodation is not necessarily about whom you are, but who you have. This has even bridge a gap between the management and the Press as these two hardly agree on anything.  But remember, the Press always stands for the truth and are always unstoppable, the challenges notwithstanding.

If the members of the Literary and Debating society of Tedder hall decided to help the management of the hall to be economical by choosing not to get accommodation form, that would be right and commonsensical of them to do, because normally, they should be expecting some sort of reward from the hall in securing bed-space each, for their unflinching determination in public speaking and for clinging the title of JAW-WAR twice consecutively. But I was struck with surprise when I heard that they were boycotting JAW-WAR 2016 because the Hall Warden, in his discretion, had refused to give them accommodation. According to a reliable source, a list of 110 eligible students was released for accommodation, out of which 70% were students recommended by senior staffs of the Institution. The remaining were sportsmen, the Legislative Councils, the Students Representative Council and 2 press men. No slot was given to any student under the auspices of the Literary and Debating Society. Tedder Hall is famous today because of Jaw-war, but I fear the hall of fame might turn to hall of shame with the decision of the Hall warden and the determination of the members not to participate in this year’s edition of JAW-WAR.

Queens Hall Press Organization didn’t make a single publication last semester until the end of the 7th week of resumption. This was after the editor-in-chief and other members were fortunate to pick yes in the ballot that took place.

Even the editor-in-chief of Mellanby Hall Press Organization passed through a process tougher than the making of gold from rust. Against all odds, his name was not among the first list of students given accommodation, while some, who didn’t even apply not to talk of passing through the procedures, found their names on the list, only to get it approved and sell it to their desperate colleagues in desperate need of a bed-space. Mellanbites abreast of details in the hall can bear witness to this sour event.

MY SUBMISSION

This is a clarion call to the managements and authorities of the University of Ibadan to review its accommodation procedures, not only as it relates to stalites, but also the freshers and finalists-every student.

First, the delay in allocating rooms to freshmen and finalists, leading to the inevitable delay and injustice on the part of the stalites must be addressed. The management should try as much as possible to maximize the end-of-the-session break to answer the freshers and stalites, so that by resumption, the only thing that will be left will be to produce evidence of payment and clearance. The stalites can then know their status before the end of the third week of resumption, and begin to seek alternative rather than spending 8 weeks hoping only to be disappointed.

Another reason why this delay must be addressed is the fact that the same amount of money is paid by freshers, finalists and stalites. It will be unjust for the stalites to pay #14,000 only to spend five weeks in the room in a semester due to the inappropriate technique employed by the school management.

Second and finally the Press and literary and debating society must be considered in the few slots available for the stalites. Since they are part of the arms of hall, and are registered bodies with the school under the umbrella of the Students’ Union, then it becomes imperative that the managements should make special provisions for these bodies just the same way it’s done with the HLC and SRC members. This is meant to be an incentive to these bodies so that they can continue to perform their duties efficiently to the hall.

I rest my case.

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