Room Roulette: A Look into the Room Allocation System In The University Of Ibadan

By: Toluwalope Ayeye

Last session, right before the ASUU strike that had students staying back home for nine months, classes had started in the Faculty of Law, albeit online. However, Dolly, having already arrived in Ibadan from Ekiti, had begun squatting with a friend in an apartment off-campus. She did this while waiting for her hostel to release the stalites list, which she assumed would take little time.

What she planned to be a 1-week wait eventually extended to 4 weeks as her hostel did not release the list on time. Even after coming back from the strike in October, Adedolapo and a few of her friends still had not been able to sort out their accommodation and resorted to squatting until they could get a place in school. It was not easy for the lady, and the dilemma she faced left quite some consequences even after she crossed that hurdle.

This is often the case for many hostels in the University of Ibadan. This year, while Adedolapo’s hostel, the Obafemi Awolowo Hall, released its stalites list quite early, not all hostels in the University of Ibadan did the same, and some students have become like Adedolapo as they wait for the list they hope would bear their name.

Three weeks into the resumption of academic activities at the University of Ibadan, the hustle and bustle in the University community is quite apparent. The commencement of lectures in various departments and faculties is all that’s needed to know that students should have settled down and begun making plans for the smooth running of their 11-week semester.

For many, having their plans and activities figured out, even on the 3rd week of resumption, is wishful thinking. While this can be attributed to so many factors that can and cannot be controlled by the students, one prevalent factor is the lack of accommodation or, better put, the delay in allocating room slots in school hostels.

The University of Ibadan has three female hostels (one of which is the biggest hostel in West Africa) and six male hostels, altogether having nine hostels. Each student, on admission into the University, is given a hall of residence, which they are associated with throughout their stay in the University. At the beginning of every academic year, room slots in each hostel are usually allocated to students. At the University of Ibadan, freshers and finalists are often prioritized when allocating room slots. Of course, this doesn’t mean that stalites are not given rooms, it just means that they are given rooms after the freshers and finalists have sorted their accommodation. Usually, this means that the stalites have to wait a few weeks into resumption before they sort out their accommodation.

For some hostels, it takes two to four weeks to release the first stalites list, and another one to two weeks for the second list, if any. During this wait, students who wish to reside in their hall of residence are left on ‘the fence’, uncertain whether their names will appear on the list. Like Schrodinger’s cat, their names are on the list and at the same time, it is not, at least until the list is finally released. With no sure way to tell if they are truly on the list, most stalites have no option but to wait for as long as the halls of residence would have them before they know where they stand.

The waiting period these students have to go through is not the easiest, as they face many inconveniences which arise in many ways. However, the root cause can always be traced back to them not having a permanent place to stay.

Let’s take a look at Oreoluwa and his fortunately short-lived predicament. On the first week of resumption, the Zikite, in his 3rd year, had to convey daily from Olorunda to his faculty for his faculty. Luckily, he managed to get his accommodation sorted during the first week when the first list was released, and he found his name on it.

However, not all have been as lucky as Oreoluwa. Ebunoluwa, a stalite in Queen’s hall, for example, had been squatting with a friend since she resumed on the 21st of August. Although she feels like she has overstayed her welcome, she has no option till she gets her a room in her hall of residence. This became worse for her when the Queen’s first and, what she suspects to be the only stalites’ list was released, and her name was not there.

Many stalites can testify to how much of an inconvenience this room allocation delay causes them. Ebunoluwa, for example, explains her inconvenience thus:

“I’ve been unable to cook, and it’s been inconvenient because I’m squatting with someone, and I’ve overstayed my welcome. I’ve been around for three weeks now.”

For another staylite in Idia, the top on the list of inconveniences she has had to face is the cost of transport fare and getting late to class. For some students, waiting for so long isn’t the only heartbreaking thing they face, as they sometimes end up without a room allocated to them.

It is one thing for students to wait for so long and eventually get their accommodation in their hall of residence sorted. It is another issue if, after waiting, the student in question does not get a room. It’s no news that the accommodations available are limited, and not every student in the University of Ibadan would get a place in their hall of residence. However, the earlier students learn where they stand regarding their accommodation, the better for them.

While there are several solutions to this issue, we’d be looking into just one. Starting the accommodation processes as early as possible has been on the lips of almost all stalite. Speaking to Dolly, who had faced the consequences of this delay first-hand, both in her upkeep and academics, she suggested that if the accommodation could be sorted a few weeks before the start of the academic year, it would be much easier for stalites.

While she doesn’t specify the number of weeks and while sorting out all accommodations before classes start might seem too farfetched, the processes can still be started early enough so students do not end up spending the first month of their semester in a predicament about their accommodation.

Accommodation is a vital part of the lives of any student and it is pretty understandable why students try to solve all issues regarding their accommodation as soon as they resume. The number of students in the University of Ibadan, in relation to the available accommodation, is relatively high, so meeting the living needs of all students is not feasible. However, things can be made easier for all stalites, both those who would eventually get a room slot and those who would not. The key is to cut down on the delay and make accommodation processes swifter and easier.

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