Parents of students at University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka have expressed strong displeasure with the university administration for ordering the students, who will be living in the school hostels, to bring their own mattresses when classes resume at the end of this month for the 2023–2024 academic session.
The news was received by both parents and students with amazement, and both groups promised it would never stand.The university administration announced the decision via WhatsAap platform, citing the new policy’s focus on students’ health as justification.The spokesperson for the institution, Mrs. Adejoke Alaga-Ibraheem, also verified the news without going into greater detail.
However, Mr. Olayiwola Aderemi, the chairman of the parents’ forum at the school, outlined his position in an interview on Thursday. He claimed that he met with Prof. Musa Obalola, the university’s dean of students affairs, on Tuesday of this week in his capacity as an advocate for the parents of UNILAG students.
The meeting was also attended by and actively participated in by the chairman’s immediate predecessor in office, Mr. Babatunde Majekodunmi, who also verified this assertion in an interview on Thursday.Speaking further, the Parents’ Forum leader said, “We met with the DSA face- to-face in his office as parents’ representatives.
“DSA office is an interface unit between the school management and the parents and it was the DSA, who forwarded the information that students are to bring their own mattresses to campus on resumption at the end of this month to the Parents’ Forum WhatsAap platform.
“It was on the platform we got to know about the development. And we were not happy about the information. Because apart from the financial burden this will bring on parents, who are still not come out of the huge obligatory fees palaver, we saw the information as an absurd.
“That public university students and UNILAG for that matter, should be coming to campus with personal mattresses when we were not living in the dark age. Even the primary and secondary school students in hostel accommodation were not asked to come with their own mattresses let alone a university.
“And we could also remember that just about two years ago during the NUGA games hosted by UNILAG, the Parents’ Forum under my predecessor bought 1, 000 mattresses to support the school and another 500 were bought earlier during the Bedbugs crisis in the hostel.
“That is 1,500 mattresses all together bought by the Parents’ Forum in the recent past.“And so, we told the DSA that parents have already been exhausted financially with all manner of charges by the university and it would be unfair and unacceptable to add to our plights.
“That the school management should allow us to breathe at least for now. That to ask students to come with their own mattresses under the current harsh economic condition is totally unacceptable to us the parents. I personally as the chairman of the forum know how difficult it was for many parents to meet up with the recent increment in various obligatory fees being charged to the students.
“And so, we pleaded with the DSA at the meeting that the management should shelve the decision at least for now and right there, we offered suggestions that the school can explore to address the matter. We suggested that the management should check all the mattresses in the hostels and separate those that are not good from those that are still in good condition.
“We said this will give us the idea of the number of mattresses that the school will need and that the school authority and some of us in the parents’ forum can pull resources together to fill the gap rather than asking general students to come with their own mattresses.
“He told us the decision for students to come with their own mattresses was that of the management to prevent further spread of bedbugs on campus. He said the school had used up to N3.8 million and N2.9 million on the ongoing fumigation of girls and boys’ hostels respectively and without eradicating all the bedbugs.
“He also said the school observed that the students are the ones infesting the hostels with bedbugs and that if they could come with their mattresses, they would keep and use them well throughout their stay on campus.
“But we asked him to help us get to the management on our stance against the new policy and he promised to get back to us with a feed back from the management and that was what we are still waiting for when we read in the media the school justification for the new policy.”
Even though the Parents’ Forum was not established as a pressure organisation to challenge management’s decisions on any matter, according to Mr. Aderemi, it serves as the point of contact and collective voice for all parents of students at UNILAG on matters that impact them.
He continued by saying that although the students would vote as is customary for hostel placement on Monday due to a lack of available rooms on campus, parents should exhibit patience in the situation. He said that the Parents’ Forum will keep talking to the management about the issue and was confident that their Will would win out.
“And if the management is adamant and insisting on students coming with their mattresses from home, I will be the one to lead other parents in protest against the policy.”