Sex pests lurk at Unam campus – senior SRC member

Keetmanshoop-The vice-president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Namibia (Unam) Southern Campus, Shikulo Eben-esser, has made explosive claims that some lecturers at the campus deliberately fail students who refuse to have sexual affairs with them.

In a strongly-worded statement delivered during the opening of the academic year last week, he raised the issue as one of the problems students face in their quest to obtain an education. He said some female students struggle because they have been purposefully failed in their modules by lecturers embittered after their sexual advances were turned down.

"It's the struggle of students who have been failed by their lecturers just because students resisted having an affair with them," said the SRC leader.

Speaking to New Era on the sidelines of the opening ceremony, to elaborate on the allegations, Eben-esser said the SRC office has been approached by some students who complained their continuous assessment marks as calculated by them didn't match those of their lecturers, who allegedly put up low marks to disqualify students from writing exams after the lecturers were denied sexual favours.

He added that some students complained that their marks have been consistently low after refusing 'to go to dinner' with certain lecturers, adding that the situation has resulted in some students moving to different campuses, as they have given up all hope of passing under the same lecturers.

He said some students have now switched from full-time to distance learning. He singled out a student who allegedly had to redo her course and start all over again while she was in the third year of her four-year degree programme. Eben-esser noted students have no choice but to take such drastic measures.

"It's no use to come back or register for the same course as they (lecturers) are the same people who are lecturing and demanding sex from these students," said Eben-esser.

During his initial speech he also had a message for all staff members of the institution, in which he charged that students have had enough of poor service while they pay huge amounts of money to be educated, and that students will take no more abuse from any staff member.

"To all those staff members who take pride in victimising our students with threats, I want you to know that your time is up, and should you continue to laugh and mock our students whose only fault is defending their freedom, we will take you home," he warned.

Contacted for comment on the issue, the assistant pro-vice chancellor Dr Erold Naomab contortedly said there seems to be a "misunderstanding", as the speech by the SRC VP also contained some of the views of the SRC president and thus it was not yet clear which issues raised are peculiar to the southern campus. He claimed that the speech did not clearly distinguish as to which issues were general to all campuses and those specific to the southern campus. On the matter of sexual affairs, he said the SRC has not brought anything of that kind to his attention, but he gave the assurance that if there is any grain of truth in the allegations and evidence that some lecturers are indeed acting in this way, the institution's policy on sexual harassment is clear as to what is to be done.

He was quick to say that students might be referring to sexual harassment cases that were already investigated last year, noting that investigators at the time found no cause for concern.

"If there is a new case that has surfaced during their term of office (SRC) then they need to bring it to our attention so that we can call an investigation team to follow on such leads, but if it's just assumptions then we can't act on assumptions, we need evidence," he responded.

Naomab however also stressed the need to understand the nature of a relationship that can exist between a lecturer and student, saying there is for instance nothing wrong with a lecturer having a relationship with a student doing her master's on distance as there is no direct conflict of interest, adding that people should also understand this and not jump to conclusions.

The SRC was due to meet the management yesterday to discuss the issues raised.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia