OAU DSA Encourages Squatting?
“Squatting” is no stranger to the majority of Great Ife students. Though it has different definitions according to individual perspectives, it could be simply explained as “an act of illegally occupying a building, space or land”. In the OAU context, the squatting picture can be painted as a situation where there are other students apart from the legally allocated occupants inhabiting a particular room. These extra students are called “squatters”. Squatting as an act has always been in constant condemnation by the University’s management as strictly illegal and hence not allowed.
The newly admitted freshmen has found themselves in a rather unusual situation of exceeding the usual quota admitted every year. Statistics has it that over 7,000 freshmen (against the usual of about 5,000) were admitted for the current academic session. The unusual increase in population sure comes with different challenges for the management, one of which is majorly fixing the 2,000 (extra) fresh students into the already over-populated halls of residence.
Though some freshmen have been successfully accommodated by the Division of Students Affairs (DSA) and some financially-buoyant ones have been able to secure accommodation outside the school vicinity after being let down by the management, but there are many who are still “homeless” and as such are having a very hard time settling down. Even after several complaints at the DSA by students who fall into this category, only few of them were lucky enough to be given accommodation. It was also reported that the DSA, at some point, allegedly advised the affected students to “go and rent”.
This leaves the students with very limited options of either squatting or renting apartments as advised by the DSA. While the later requires a substantial financial capability, which currently looks unachievable judging from the state of the Nigerian economy, the former seems easy, though “illegal”.
For some of these new students, their arrival on campus is the first time they would be leaving their parents’ care in the real sense. Non-availability of bed-spaces for these ones in halls of residence, as you’ll agree with me, is a serious problem. To think that the affected freshmen will be in this tough situation for the next eight months or thereabouts is even more worrisome.
These students have been forced to put up with their acquaintances who were lucky enough to secure accommodation, or even moving from one room to another without a base. They have resulted into “full squatting” (the widely-acclaimed illegal act), without minding the grave consequences as threatened by the management. As much as squatting seems to be the only realistic solution, it comes with a great deal of inconvenience cum insecurity. These students stand the chances of receiving different forms of disturbing abuse from roommates who will see them as unwelcomed guests and also security threats to their properties.
While some may be able to cope with the situation, it might be too much for others to handle. This, on the long run, will definitely affect their academic pursuits (their primary assignment on campus). A student who can is not sure of a proper abode to return into after the usual stress-fill day on OAU campus will surely not be in the right mood to study.
Though there is little or nothing they can do about this rather unforeseen and undeserving circumstances, I’ll like to wish them good luck in their quest to survive this “baptism of fire” without getting burnt.
Ridwan A. Oyetunji writes from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife.
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