Necessary arrangements have been put in place by the University Management to ensure that the welfare and security of students are adequately provided for, as they resume for another academic session. According to the Dean of Student Affairs; Professor Yemi Akegbejo-Samsons, “You will recall that the University went through some crises that had to do with the security of our off-campus students and after thorough deliberations and considerations, a committee was set up and given the responsibility of finding lasting solutions to the remote and immediate causes of the students’ crisis and submitted its paper, which the University Senate approved and harmonised into a policy called the ‘Policy on Off-Campus Student Residence, Welfare and Security’.
The Dean of Student Affairs disclosed that “the policy would ensure that the safety and welfare of our students that are both off and on-campus, are properly monitored and coordinated by the Student Welfare and Hostel Management Committee (SWEHOMAC), under the supervision of the Student Affairs Division. The policy also provides that SWEHOMAC shall inaugurate a sub-committee on ‘Off Campus Students Accommodation and Welfare (SOCSAW)’”. SOCSAW is expected to have six members, comprising the Dean of Student Affairs or his representative; a Student Affairs’ Officer or his representative; a representative of SWEHOMAC; a representative of the Environmental Unit; a representative of the Information and Communication Technology Resource Centre (ICTREC) and a representative of the University Health Services.
Professor Akegbejo-Samsons explained further that the duties of SOCSAW would include compiling the list of every potential off-campus residence, based on the criteria to be determined from time-to-time by SWEHOMAC, which include but are not limited to, room space adequacy for single or shared occupancy; availability and suitability of toilet and kitchen facilities; availability and suitability of laundry facilities; provision of electricity and potable water; ease of access and exit from the building; level of record keeping and provision of parking spaces for vehicles. Others include general provision of suitable security facilities; commitment and participation of the landlord or representatives in the relevant Community Development Associations (CDAs); appropriateness of rent charged and maintenance of a Closed Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) system, which is optional.
Speaking on the operations and the workability of the policy, the Dean stated that the list of accredited off-campus residences would be released on the University Portal at the beginning of the second semester of every academic session, for students to access, while SOCSAW would make monthly visits to approved off-campus residences, to determine the continuous suitability of the residences for students’ habitation. He disclosed further that the outcome of the once-a-semester visit of the sub-committee, would formally be shared with the property owners or their representatives, while old or returning students would be required to indicate their off-campus accommodation preferences during the second semester. He added that fresh students would be directed to the University Portal, after they had paid the recommended acceptance fees for the provisional offer of admission to indicate their accommodation preferences while students that cannot obtain accommodation within campus would then be directed to the University Portal, where they would be able to choose from the different accredited residences, based on their preferences and availability of space.
Professor Akegbejo-Samsons added that the minimum requirement for registration of the off-campus residences with the University would be in three categories, namely: joint residency, small hostel and large hostel. For the joint residency, home owner, landlord and his/her family would occupy some rooms in the building or be resident within the same walled premises in which security arrangement would be provided by the home-owner, while registration and participation with the relevant Community Development Associations (CDAs) would be made mandatory for the property owner.
In the case of small hostels with less than 20 rooms, he said the landlord and his/her family members do not need to occupy any room in the building. However, occupants of rooms by non-students of the University would be declared to the SOCSAW Administrative Officer with appropriate details for record purposes while the rooms allocated to students would be in accordance with SWEHOMAC-approved space allocation guidelines and cannot be altered without the approval of the University. The provision of a porter, adequate security arrangement and participation in relevant CDAs, are also mandatory.
The policy requires that in large hostels with more than 20 rooms in which the landlord and his/her family members neither occupy the building nor reside there. The residence must have a day and two night guards in the employment of the landlord with direct responsibility for keeping vigil over the property and reticulation with other security operatives as well as participation in relevant CDAs activities.
Speaking on security, the Dean stated that the University, through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, would continue to maintain a cordial relationship with the government of Ogun State; Chairman, Odeda Local Government Area; Kabiyesis and Baales in the relevant locations in their capacity as the chief security officers in their respective areas of jurisdiction. In addition, he said that other top hierarchy of all relevant security agencies including the police, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), vigilantes and the Police Community Relations Committees at the state and national levels would be explored to ensure the security of the students while the offices of the Dean of Student Affairs and Chief Environmental Officer would continue to relate with relevant chairmen of the CDAs.
Professor Akegbejo-Samsons charged students living off-campus to always conduct themselves with the highest level of decorum and be security conscious, stating that a clear communication line for reporting security breaches among residents, day/night guards, security agencies and FUNAAB would soon be communicated to them. Expressing the commitment of the University to ensuring security and safety of its students, the Dean revealed that the University was also determined to contribute to the erection of a Division Police Headquarters (DPHs), saying the community had showed their support for the initiative by donating a piece of land for the building of the DPHs at the Harmony Estate. Calling on property owners to cooperate and register their hostels with the University, towards ensuring the safety of lives and property of the tenants and students of the University, the Don pointed out that the advantages derivable were enormous.
Speaking on the benefits available to the students, he said it would provide them easy access to gaining accommodation in residence that would be problem-free and at the same time, protect them from falling victims to fraudulent people that may pose as caretakers. Professor Akegbejo-Samsons appreciated the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, for the continued support enjoyed by the Student Affairs Division, and for his intention to provide a secretariat and a vehicle for effective running of SOCSAW. He called on students to feel free to visit his office to make enquiries, whenever they were in doubt and to desist from relaying unverified information passed down to them by their colleagues, as such might not be accurate. He also called the executives of the Students’ Union to be in close working relationship with the Student Affairs Division because they both remain stakeholders in the progress and development of the University.