Quid pro quo- sex for a better grade is sordid and shameful. This act is preposterous when lecturers swap good grades or rewards in return for sexual favors from lecturers and professors who demand sex or offer better grades to female students. The University of the Gambia (UTG) should not allow these alleged revelations of sexual harassment to pass.
Notwithstanding this act, it is avoidable, ethically, and morally reprehensible and an abuse of power for university staff to extort sex from students. However, any proven case from the University must be prosecuted. It is time this is done to assess the law and demonstrate the seriousness of the matter.
It is the decisive moment of truth-telling. The pie is rotten through and through. When the rot reaches the core of the education system, then the entire body politic is desiccated. Therefore, the University of the Gambia (UTG) authorities MUST follow in other universities’ footsteps, investigate any of the lecturers, and professors and students be sanctioned if those are found guilty.
The UTG, where the lecturers are accused of sex for grades, must also rise to the occasion and investigate them. Sexual harassment must stop. Selfless women (and men) must be protected from odious people like this who are disgusting. Academic institutions in West Africa have increasingly been facing allegations of sexual harassment by lecturers. This type of abuse is said to be endemic, but it is rarely proven. There is no denying that many female students sometimes tempt their lecturers into having sex with them in exchange for better grades. It is also true that the temptations of provocative female dressing on campuses seduce many lecturers. The lecturers and professors reward compliant students with good grades while withholding the marks of reluctant ones to coerce them to oblige or else suffer from delayed graduation.
However, the pungent-smelling rot challenges the education minister and UTG senate. They should focus on more than just rotten academic degrees. They should also look at the First-Class Honor rolls. At the graduation ceremony, you look at a class. How can a course have more graduates in the first class than those in the upper second honor list? Evidence has shown something is deeply wrong with our education system; the Vice Chancellor and the education department should do something drastic about it, however difficult, painful, and dangerous. Because the perpetrators of the evil schemes can easily target and collapse the future of education and undermine the Gambia education system.
It is normal to get a few errant copycat students. However, suppose professors and senior lecturers enter the fray and lead batches of students into mass academic slaughter, giving them unmerited academic degrees and First Class honors. In that case, we are in an academic muddle.
The implications are dire. Gambians will not rest in peace outside there, in the brutally competitive world, where they will always sit suspect, scorned by academics who were ready to live like paupers, eccentrics, to maintain the academic standards, religiously keep meritocracy intact!
Like every other Tim, Dick, and Harry, our academics still worship money. That is why some of them go to politics to contest elections to get a chance to amass plots and enjoy unnecessary bench-marking trips abroad! Money is a disinteresting tool, a mere trinket to achieve specific base aims.
While the issue of sex for better grades primarily revolves around lecturers and professors harassing their students, anecdotal evidence shows that students also sexually harass their lecturers by presenting themselves as readily available for grades, lucre, or just fun. The behavior is common among students struggling academically but aware of their alternative endowments. In some cases, students tape their private conversations with the lecturers, thanks to mobile phone technology, and then coerce the latter to award the marks they dictate or else be reported to the administration.
Evidence has revealed cases of male students also being sexually harassed by female lecturers. In addition, there are cases of female lecturers making explicit sexual advances to their male students, failing non-compliant ones in exams, and threatening others with discontinuation.
Suppose a lecturer succumbs to the seduction of his female or male students in exchange for better grades. In that case, it is still sexual exploitation because of the unequal power dynamics in the relationship. Lecturers and professors should—and can—spurn the temptations of their students. For instance, a few years ago, I repelled the sexual overtures of a female student. One day, a charming and gorgeous female student with an infectious smile came to me in my apartment. She was distraught with grief. Her eyes were bloodshot from excessive crying. She was in danger of not graduating because she failed a course. She came so that I could help her pass her paper. By her admission, she did not deserve to pass the course but wanted to graduate and have a degree.
She believes she was sure she could use the beauty and incredibly tempting bodily endowments God created to compel any lecturer to provide her with whatever grade she wanted. She told me she had ‘passed’ other courses that way. She came to my residence in her most provocative dress—one that, according to her, could rouse a dead man to life— I did not even look at her twice, and there was nothing I could do to help her. She wondered if I was sexually impotent. She promised to give me ‘anything’ if I could change my mind and give her a passing grade. I refused.
Is this the Gambia academia set on a sound footing by the government? How does a lecturer or a professor supervise 12 Ph.D. students instead of the expected maximum of five in one year, as was the case at the University of the Gambit? Oh, UTG, of all places! This is our academic pride; the Oxford of the Gambia is the jewel of the low-income family.
A journalism faculty with that kind of record is a disaster! Courses like Journalism and Media Studies, just for what? University is meant to do something other than churn out a mass-produced workforce for the industry. We have skilled fundis around who can do anything! The relationship between University and industry is far more creative than that: exploring new frontiers of knowledge to open new industries or expand existing ones.
Our problem? Studying with money in mind, preparing courses with money in mind. First, however, you must always determine where money will come from. Inventors like Sir Isaac Newton will tell you that.
How does UTG, founded and funded ably by the Gambia government, produce five -10 PhDs in a single graduation, allow one supervisor to teach 10 to 15 Ph.D. students, admit to Ph.D. and masters’ courses people without requisite qualifications, and graduate up to one thousand bachelors and masters’ students in a year?
What is the rush for mass graduation if not for minting money? How can about everybody in class be a genius of equal caliber? At UTG, they say, or they alleged some lecturers even supervised students in areas, not their specialization. They accept UTG has undergone a rough patch, with masters’ scholars supervising masters’ students. However, why is it a wholesale affair?
As they say, at the UTG, it is worse where underfunding is more acute, and many students complete courses without being taught by a professor! These people are academic gangsters and have no respect or passion for their careers of choice. Qualifying someone who does not measure up tells a lot about them. Where are the pride or mentoring people who will be the pride of the profession and even the country? How do you mentor an apparent, clueless failure and claim to be a professional? Where is the professionalism and professional ethics?
Is it okay for somebody who wants a degree or to graduate and get a job? Of course, but looking for a bachelor’s degree, a Ph.D., or a master, paying heavily for them to graduate, get a degree, and get a job is a height of crookedness! Gambian students must stop tempting lecturers and their professors. We cannot ruin our academics simply for fear of being out of a job or to get a degree. To the palate of a professional, money should have a bitter-sweet taste and not something to drool over exceedingly like a thief. There must be a difference between a thief, an ordinary operative, and a seeker of knowledge.
When the authorities are told to merge courses and satellite colleges, the leaders do grouse. However, the funding realities are out there for all to see. In any case, campuses were never meant to be third-grade tertiaries. They are supposed to be places of specialization. Instead, many of our scholars indulge in sex-for-grades, which further tarnishes the quality of our scholarly output: the first-class honor graduates who are just flower girls! This one has been enduring for so long and has made many great scholars lose lives so wastefully. Enough is enough.
However, many lecturers and professors have a reputation for being ethical and honorable in their dealings with their female students. So, it is not as if male lecturers are passive, helpless victims of the sexual enticements of their students. On the contrary, because the power dynamics are in their favor, some lecturers and professors can resist the sexual bait of their female and male students without any consequence. So, why should a whole lecturer and professor have engaged in quid pro quo with students undermining building the future of the education system?