THE DOUBTING THOMAS
“I would rather be in my hostel sleeping and watching movies all day than to be inside the hot unforgiving sun frying my face just to vote for one candidate”. That’s the reply one AAUA student to the political call of duty on campus.
The above statement stems out of such students disbelief in the ability of successive Student Union (SU) administrations to effect any “major” positive change in the affairs of a student populace it sets out to represent, but end up being viewed as puppets in the hands of the “ogas at the top” . A believe not so true and not so false either.
It is noteworthy that just as it is in the country where citizens are responsible for electing their leaders, in any given higher institution of learning the students are the one responsible for fishing out a definite number of other students and placing them into positions of power. This is because the institution is seen as a community that is in existence to serve the need of students (quality education) just as the government of a country is created to serve the need of its populace.
It is therefore imperative that students see their involvement in unionism and student politics as their right and not just a concept that exists and is trapped between pages of the Constitution. But the indifference and skeptical nature many students exhibit makes them see such gatherings as somewhere they are forcefully dragged too, sometimes by their lecturers who give them assignments coupled with the instruction to submit on the election day.
While many believe that the SU feeds their hears with carefully cooked propaganda and spicy debates alone without fully performing, others opine that even if a union wants to work, the school administration is a stumbling block that influences their decisions. Thus, certain students say, “even if SUG wants to work it’s what the school authorities want them to do that they’ll do, Okra can’t be taller than the farmer naw”.
THE WAY OUT
A level of consideration is needed, because with these beliefs in mind, students tend to throw in the towel and form a unionism apathy in themselves causing them to relinquish their rights. AAUA with a student population of about seventeen thousand may record only about 50-60% such number in unionism activities. What happens to the other sets of non-participants? Have they not left the decision making into the hands of others? Have they not given the discussion on who leads them a contemptuous look, I don’t care attitude? This attitude does not exist at the SU level alone but extends to faculties and even departmental elections.
But we all should know that coming out to vote on election day is not all there is, merely voicing out ones opinions and thoughts about issues matter a lot, you have a voice for a reason, not for shouting and disrupting class activities alone but to speak up and share your views. Truth be told, ideas are embedded in every one but until you open your mouth and let those words fly out, no one will really know the stuff you are truly made of. That is the more reason we should learn to utilize the educative and mind opening environment that a 21st Century University like AAUA provides.
As earlier said, certain reasons why students dissociate themselves from student unionism are:
- They sometimes fear the Student Union won’t deliver its mandate
- They believe the school authority influences the decision of the union.
To correct this narrative, much lies in the hands of the SU members to do and even aspirants when they go out canvassing for support. The heart of man is deep no one can know it, but words aforementioned is what people quickly point out too when a leader is doing contrary to what he or she promised during the campaigns. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “Action expresses priorities”, it is the way a leader acts that his or her priorities will be known to the student populace; never forget that a good name is better than gold or silver. This is in no way to undermine the dear efforts and struggles of the SU and other executives, but just a reminder that to whosoever much is given, much is expected.
The School authority also needs to recognize that the students are its number one priority as it was established to cater for the educational needs of the students, so any innovation or discussion tabled before it must be carefully considered. It is through the agitation and deliberation of students (which is obviously legal) that the school administration can know more about what the students need, not everything should be based on their (school admin) discretion, but student inclusion should be made broader and encouraged.
One of such is to review the school fees payment criteria, which students are, expected to meet before being able to vote and be voted for. It can’t be objectively said that ideas to make the institution better live only in the heads of those capable of paying their fees earlier. This is not to undermine the fact that the school runs on the monies generated, but just to make it known that every student is a shareholder with a voice and deserves to be heard.
In conclusion; it is important to note that the institution will run smoothly when there is synergy between the students, SU representatives and the school authority. Those that do not seem to be interested in student politics, need to understand that a reason why unionism is allowed in higher institutions is because in here minds mature and are shaped to positively influence the society. It won’t be nice for this same apathy mindset to follow them to the world out there ruled by public participation.
Moreover, you have a voice that needs to be heard, opinions that deserve to be share, brilliant questions that should be asked, and ideas that need to be birthed. Campaigns and election preparation will kick-start once the school resumes and everything settles, this is an opportunity to engage in meaningful political discussions, to be on the lookout for those capable of steering the SU ship and not just following the crowd without careful examination. Don’t silence that voice, who knows your idea might be what the school needs to see things from another angle, this is one way to leave your mark on the sands of time (actually on the soil of AAUA)
Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, definitely AAUA won’t reach its peak in just one academic year, it is the accumulation of tiny positive changes over time that amounts to something big in the future. It is important for every student to get up and recognize his or her duties, for each student to play his or her own part to make AAUA better, to make it a dream come through: 21 century University properly called.