By: Moboluwarin Ogunleye
The management of the University of Ibadan announced a few weeks ago that the ban on male students visiting the female halls has been lifted. Prior to this male students had not been able to enter the vicinity of halls like Queen Idia, Obafemi Awolowo Hall, and Queen Elizabeth II. They would have to stand by the roadside in front of the gates and in some halls like Obafemi Awolowo Hall, the roads near the gates are restricted to visitors from 8:30 pm. But it wasn’t always like this. The ban spoken of earlier was made in 2019, so what happened?
In the University of Ibadan, circa 2019. The school announced that it is now forbidden for male guests to enter any of the female hostels located within the educational institution. The recent robbery attacks on female students in some female hostels compelled the administration to make the difficult choice to bar male guests from entering the facilities. Some armed robbers had in July that year, attacked the Obafemi Awolowo hall, where students’ property ranging from mobile phones, laptops, and money were forcefully taken away from the students. It was reported that no fewer than two students were injured in the robbery attack in the female hostel. A similar incident was recorded at the Abdul-salami Abubakar Hall, a postgraduate hostel, in the early hours of Sunday, where students’ property was carted away. Some students were also injured during the attack. But in a release titled, “Security measures in Queen Elizabeth Hall, Queen Idia Hall, and Obafemi Awolowo Hall”, the institution said that as part of measures to curtain the robbery attacks, female students should also be screened at the porters’ lodge in the female hostels. More information on those events could be found here.
The erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Professor Idowu Olayinka, in a statement reported by a student, added that residents of the female hostels are to receive visitors outside their hostels. “In view of the recent security situation on the campus, male visitors are henceforth prohibited from entering the above listed female halls of residence.” and also added that “The residents of the aforementioned halls can only receive their male visitors outside. Female visitors should be screened at the Porters’ Lodge.” He also in a release announced the imposition of a partial curfew in the school from midnight till 5am. But now that we have access to all of these halls, does it really make a difference? I can still vividly recall the anticlimactic feeling that prevailed after the announcement. “Is it absolutely necessary for me to walk through their hallways? What exactly am I going to be doing there? On paper, it looks like it would be a lot of fun, but the females already had unrestricted access to the male halls during visiting hours, and the majority of the guys had already gotten used to the system. Is there something truly exceptional about the women’s restrooms that requires me to make adjustments to what was previously successful? “why fix it, if it isn’t broken” is a common phrase.
It appears as though this news is genuine; nevertheless, the majority of men find it hard to believe because they believe it is too good to be true. This could be the reason why I haven’t noticed any sign of male activity in the female halls, despite the fact that the statement has been made for a few weeks. In addition to this, in spite of the notice made by the school. It’s safe to assume that the porters at these halls won’t make men feel very welcome once they enter the halls. But all in all, I think there are positives and some negatives to this decision. For example, it promotes gender equality. Entering the university as a freshman in Independence Hall. I always wondered why girls were allowed in the halls and I couldn’t enter the female halls. I thought it unfair, but now this decision encourages equal treatment of both sexes. Universities can contribute to the reduction of gender discrimination and the creation of an environment that is more inclusive and welcoming for all students if they treat male and female students in the same manner.
In addition, there are many who believe that this policy can assist in the development of positive connections between male and female students by enabling them to engage in interaction and socialization in a manner that is more organic. Furthermore, another point in favor of removing the restriction on male guests in female halls is the possibility that doing so will contribute to increased student security. Universities can help to lessen the risk of sexual harassment or assault by ensuring that there are more eyes on the situation by allowing male guests to enter female dormitories. This will ensure that there are more eyes on the issue. In addition, if institutions lift the ban, they can contribute to the development of a culture of responsibility and accountability on campus, one in which all students are encouraged to look out for one another and report any possible issues.
But on the other side of the coin, There is also the possibility of negative fallout from removing the restriction on male guests in female hostels. One of the worries is that it would raise the risk of sexual harassment or assault, particularly among male guests if they are not adequately checked or supervised. In addition, the presence of male visitors in the living areas of some students may make them feel uneasy or dangerous. As these girls have become accustomed to their halls being their personal space. This is especially likely to be the case if these students have had terrible experiences in the past, such as being harassed or assaulted. In addition to that, there is also the possibility of the robbery incident that caused the ban to repeat itself.
While it’s unclear to me why the university decided to remove the ban at this time, I’m concerned about drawbacks as I don’t think there is a real reason to be in female hostels asides from going up to the rooms, as most of the cafeterias in the male hostels are better than the female counterparts. But in the end, the removal can promote healthy relationships and foster a healthy campus environment.