No student should be denied access to the university over any kind of Shoe!

Seyi Lasisi

Barely a few days after the resumption the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor is unleashing unwelcome policies on students of Olabisi Onabanjo University. Starting with the release of an academic calendar that has no sympathy for students to gradually pick up academic activities from where the strike commenced.

Despite students being at home for 8 months due to the strike actions, one will expect enough time for revision before students are rushed into the examination hall. However, this calendar expects students to resume to lectures hall that might not be swept with untrimmed bushes of rushing students with exams.

The policy of “No Shoe, No Entering of Campus” is a course of action that will not contribute to students’ academic advancement. Rather, it is a rule that will make the university a secondary school. A place where students’ will not be able to express them voice.

These policies aren’t new, it’s a progression from the already accepted “stop-and-search” policy of the school management, which time had rendered the importance of the stop-and-search at the school gate irrelevant.

Students are always, except those in private cars, expose to the drudgery of passing through what should be termed a Morality policing security check at the school gate daily. There are a series of known and unknown deeds that can signal students’ admittance to the school gate: for instance a “wrong” use of weavons, a kind of haircut; putting on leg chains etc. It’s an exhaustive list of do-and-don’t.

These are the kind of policies that have caused an uprising in Iran where a form of morality police was set up to monitor how students and youths dress. This form of policing led to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for reason of not wearing her hijab correctly.

To the amazement of students, on 31 October, 2022. Leaving his official duty, the OOU Vice Chancellor (Prof. Agboola Ayodeji Johnson) was seen intervening in monitoring the dressing of students coming into campus.

Another addition to the list is disallowing students from putting on ‘palm sandals’ at the university. This might be viewed as a subtle teaching of the act of professional dressing. It fails to recognize the right of students to decide when and what they wear despite is not affecting and disrupting the school activities.

The SUG has released a press statement severely criticising the no-shoe-no entrance policy. Reports coming from students who have been in the school have it that students are being chased home for not wearing the “appropriate footwear.” The union must ensure that no student is denied access to the university over this unpopular policy.

This is not to say the press statement of the SUG is ineffective. It shows that the SUG, in writing the statement, is abreast with the student’s issue. And for OOU students, our commendation will be that they should continually resist any anti-student policies.

We urge the Students’ Union to support students who want to wear footwear they deem fit, in as much it does not ridicule other students or put the university in a bad light.

We urge the management to concentrate on policies that will improve the welfare of students and staff of the university rather than enforcing a No shoe policy. Efforts should be placed on maintaining a healthy environment by ensuring the fumigation of classrooms, libraries, clearing the school surroundings and providing the necessary tools for learning are priorities of the OOU.

The university is just resuming after a series of strike actions by the university unions (ASUU, NASU and SSANU). The demands of these unions are genuine for the development of the universities in the country.

We call on the management to add voices to support the unions for improving funding and revitalisation of universities. Students must organise to reject this policy with peaceful actions that will be link with demanding for quality funded public education.