The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has commended prompt actions by the management of Obafeme Awolowo University (OAU) in the alleged sexual harassment of one of its female students.
The Director-General of CPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, gave the commendation on Monday in a statement by Mr Abiodun Obimuyiwa, CPC Head of Media.
Irukera said the council had keenly followed the raging controversy regarding the sexually and emotionally abusive conduct of demanding, and or providing sexual gratification in exchange for favourable grades in school.
He noted that the widely discussed controversy underscored an allegedly pervasive practice.
Recently, there had been a leaked and widely circulated audio clip that appeared to have captured a telephonic conversation or “negotiation” between a female student and a member of faculty at OAU, Ile Ife.
The audio clip had been authenticated and both the member of faculty and student/victim had been identified.
According to Irukera, “CPC notes the prompt actions taken by the authorities of OAU and commends the responsiveness so far displayed, in addressing a rather insidious and predatory incident.
“The Council further welcomes the expressed commitment of OAU to an open and transparent investigation, as well as the promise to publish the outcome of the investigation.
“The Council encourages OAU to ensure this investigation is broad, balanced and inclusive.”
Irukera urged management of the school to include people and views from all relevant stakeholders in handling the case to promote confidence, equity and fairness.
He named such stakeholders to include faculty, professional disciplinary bodies, student representation, relevant civil society specialising in sexual harassment, gender objectification, consumer protection and institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission.
The CPC boss also urged the school management to ensure the investigative process encouraged contributions and protected both identified and anonymous contributors.
He said the authorities must in addition provide necessary safeguards that, such persons were not otherwise victimised, “blacklisted” or subjected to any reprisal on account of their cooperation with the investigation.
Irukera said,”a transparent, comprehensive and decisive approach to a matter of this nature is vital for reputation and quality of education.
“Failure to fully and sufficiently address the issue compromises the entire institution and victimises not only the students who are directly solicited, induced or compelled, but others who decline, and those who are not considered or propositioned.
“This is because educational outcomes skewed by such factors operate to the disadvantage of all, especially where class rank is a factor in evaluating performance.”
Furthermore, Irukera called on all relevant authorities in OAU and other institutions to assiduously address this conduct, or others ancillary to it in order to restore institutional reputation.
This, he said would ensure that students, being consumers of educational services were able to pursue scholarship in institutions that provided safe, secure and liberal environment.
He said that it would also ensure that the relationship between faculty and students led to robust and confident knowledge sharing. (NAN)