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KWASU Students, Security Operatives At War Over Dress Code

To check indecent dressing among students at the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Kwara State, the school’s security personnel were ordered to enforce compliance with dress code. However, allegations of female students have become rife from female students. Hence, they call on authorities to put the security operatives in check. HALIMAH BALOGUN (KWASU) reports.

Universities across the country have gone tough on indecent dressing on their campuses. There are rules guiding how students should dress. In some cases, billboards are erected on campuses to show the kinds of dressing not allowed.

Students’ handbooks also contain regulations that govern dressing. It is not uncommon for the institution’s leadership to instruct security personnel to prevent indecently-dressed students from entering the school, and to enforce dress code (rules) and ensure compliance.

Observers have argued that in advanced countries, it is unusual for security officers, whose main duty is to ensure safety of lives and properties in the school environment, to have the liberty of checking students’ dressing before entering the school.

But the pervading ‘nudity’ and inappropriate dress choices of students across university campuses coupled with the rise in allegations of sexual exploitations and rape, no doubt, called for such intervention.

However, in KWASU, security officers seem to be overzealous as female students alleged that they contend with assault, extortion and molestation.

Specifically, there have been allegations that some security men forcefully remove female students’ headgears, verbally abuse them and collect bribes to look the other way.

By and large, these situations have led to friction between the students and the security personnel.

When CAMPUS LIFE spoke with students, they decried the manner in which some of these officers have allegedly subjected students to ridicule. They described their acts as ‘abuse of power, character deficiency and unprofessionalism’.

Students decry extortion, harassment, others
A 300-Level Mass Communication student, who simply identified herself as Deborah, said: “It was during examination last session. I was in the shuttle making jokes with my friends at the backseat. I was rest assured I was going to go through because I was dressed pretty decently until one of the security officers asked me to get down. I was confused and I kept checking myself trying to see where I have gone wrong in my dressing. I asked him what was wrong with my clothes, but instead of him to simply tell me that my top has rolled up, he was going to touch my waist, but I moved back immediately, then he told me my top rolled up.

“Despite what he was about to do, I apologised and fixed myself but this man insisted I go back to change when there was nothing wrong with my dressing. He almost made me miss my examination that day.

“This issue of these men abusing their power is as old as the school itself.”

Another student, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that one of the officers pulled off her head scarf and embarrassed her at the school gate.

“One of the security men at the gate literally pulled off my scarf on my head because my tinted hair was showing just a little under my scarf.

“First, I didn’t go to school with my tinted hair open because I am a Muslim and I don’t even expose my hair. He disrespected me by not asking me to pull my scarf. Instead he pulled off my scarf and threw it into the flowers despite pleading with them that I don’t expose my hair in public. I was made to go back with my hair opened to retint.

“The man spoke to me in an ill-mannered way and sent me home for tinting my hair and even covering it up and still he pulled my scarf and disrespected me.

“Meanwhile, other students can bribe them and they let them go free even when they are dressed inappropriately,” she said.

Another male student, who also pleaded anonymity, alleged that he was denied entrance to the school because he refused to give the security personnel “new year’s money”.

He, however, lauded the school management for putting in place measures to reduce the rate of crime in the school and its environs and called on them to re-orientate the officers on their duties.

Abimbola Bello, a 200-Level student of Public Health, said the first contact she had with the officers was bad. She was stopped at the school gate on her very first day of coming to school.

According to her, the bus she boarded was stopped and they requested for their Identity Cards. As a new student then, she explained that she was just coming to school for the first time, hence she had no ID card, but she could identify herself through other means like the payment slip for her acceptance fee.

She said: “I was in one of those government buses coming from Ilorin to the school. On getting to the gate, he asked me to get down because I didn’t have ID card. I explained everything to him, but he refused and started raising his voice. The other people in the bus tried to appeal to him, but this officer refused, he kept shouting that he wouldn’t allow me enter because rule is rule. I kept on begging him because it was my first day. I was coming all the way from Ilorin. I couldn’t just go back without doing anything, but he didn’t budge until the person I went to school with came down and greased his palm. I was surprised. I was told it was the norm here.”

She added that naive students have become their prey with nothing being done about it.

Peace Eze, a 400-Level student of Computer Science said she witnessed the officers collecting bribe from erring students so they could go inside the school.

She said: “We were going for examination that day and when we got to the gate, we were stopped as usual and the security officers asked my coursemate and about three of his friends to get down because their hair was bushy. It was not actually bushy but you know them, they always do their best to make sure they bring out some kind of fault so they would blame you and you would bring out something.

“My coursemate told them he had an examination. He said he would cut his hair later, but the man said they could not go like that. He asked the four of them to pay N20,000, but they complained that the money was too much for the haircut alone, they later agreed for N5,000 and he insisted they make the transfer immediately. We didn’t hear the rest and the driver had to go beg the security officers, but they said he should just leave them but we all had the same exams that day, so we had to wait.When they entered the bus, they said they paid the N5,000 to them. It was not the first time they would collect money from erring students, insisting that culprits transfer the money immediately.”

According Toyin Adeolu, a student of Mass Communication, the security operatives discharge their duties as their mood dictates.

She said there were days when it was obvious that a student did not adhere to the dress code but he or she would be allowed in without any trouble and there were days when students follow the dress code, but they still get punished.

Balikis Odewuyi, a 400-Level student of Public Administration, said: “Sometimes they work diligently and there are times they don’t. They don’t do their job at the right time and in the right way.There are issues that are supposed to be taken lightly but they will capitalise on it and issues that are supposed to be handled seriously are taken lightly. All in all, they just do whatever they want.

“However, at the end of the day, innocent students are being incessantly harassed.

“As good as the idea behind such is, the school authority should be able to check or to have supervisors who will check some of these troublesome security personnel so that they will do their job appropriately. If they are not checked, it can lead to serious crisis in future.”

Management reacts

Dean of Students’ Affairs, Prof. Moshood Jimba faulted the harassment claims by the students, saying no complaints of such has been reported to the school management.

He noted that the institution had zero tolerance for indecent dressing, hence the need for strict measures.

His words: “I’ve not heard of such issue and I doubt it much. If this happens to be true, the management will take necessary actions against any staff member who demands bribe from any student.

“The position of management is to give out rules and regulations regarding proper dressing. So, any student who doesn’t comply with the rules and regulations of the university should be stopped at the gate and asked to return home.

“As the Dean of Students’ Affairs, at times, I stop at the gate to participate in the checking exercise. Any student that is hiding in the bus for example, it is our right to bring him/her down and instruct such to return home. But the issue of collecting money, that’s the issue that we will not tolerate, we will not condone that.

“Can you imagine a male student, for example, weaving his hair and covering it with cap?

 “Of course, such a student will be brought down from the vehicle and asked to remove his cap or they will seize his fez cap and ask him to go back home and cut his hair. I don’t think that’s too much.

 “It’s the rules and regulations of the university. This is what I know is happening. No student has ever complained to me and they know if they ever complain to me, they know the action I will take against any staff at the gate, but if you have any information and can prove it, please don’t hesitate to let me have it. Once you prove it, you will see the action the university will take, I can assure you.”

He, however reiterated the university’s commitment to ensuring a safe environment for students and discipline any staff who goes out of the line of duty.

It’s all rumour, says SU

The Student Union (SU) President, Isreal Jesutofunmi Adewoye, described the allegations as unfounded. He said there were “just rumours”. According to him, the students complaint is about being told to go back and change their outfit, cut their hair or loosen coloured hair, among others.He said: “We all know KWASU has laid.

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