SIJU YUSUF: THE AILMENT THAT ROTS THE SYSTEM- SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE UNIVERSITY

SIJU YUSUF: THE AILMENT THAT ROTS THE SYSTEM- SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE UNIVERSITY
By my 5th year at the university, I had grown enough balls and bravery to look him in the eye and say ‘go to hell’. It was not always like that. For 2 years, I cowered like a coward.

‘Prof S wants to see you’ The course rep said over my shoulders. I turned around to be sure he was addressing me. ‘What for?’ I asked.

‘He did not say. He just said to bring you to his office at the end of the lecture’.

My instinct told me I was about to be sexually harassed again by this one. I was not surprised. This would not be my first experience, I was only taken aback as the professor in question is highly respected for his intellectual prowess and definitely the mould of grey hair that stuck above his Ankara blouse. I did not even realise how much of grey hair he had until ‘we’ began to tussle in his office later.

‘No problem’ I retorted as I typed away frantically on my phone. ‘I need to inform my friend, she has been waiting for us to go back to the hostel together’ ‘Don’t worry, her class is on the same block as the prof’ I added.  

The course rep and I walked to prof’s office in silence. He tried to make small talk but I was not in the mood. My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of how I would scale through yet another harassment. I had also sent SOS to my friend who had not actually been waiting for me to leave wherever she was and meet me in front of the professor’s office. We were planning on how to frustrate the randy man in our little way.

‘Hey, I am so sorry I kept you waiting’.

‘It’s okay, I just finished a lecture as well’. She responded.

‘Professor S wants to see me’. I continued. ‘I won’t be long’

At that moment, I wondered why my girlfriend was not into theatre art or some form of screen play. She acted so convincingly one would think she had actually been waiting.

The course rep knocked on the door, curtseyed and beckoned on me to come in. I looked back briefly at my friend and did the sign of the cross. She would be outside till she hears a scream or bang and then knock raptly on the door till the lecturer opens. And, I will escape. Plan, check.

‘Good evening sir’.

‘Elelubo, how are you? Course rep, please excuse us’. The course rep exited the office as the randy old man told me to bolt the door. Like a lamb going to slaughter, I stood up and bolted the door, my destiny now in whatever game I could play behind those doors.

‘You know what I want I’m sure. I have been informed you would not be of much trouble’.

If this would help understand where I was coming from, I did not have too many friends in class in my 2nd year at the University. My friends were in other departments so I would usually dash off after lectures to be with them. When the man told me he had been informed of my waywardness (the inference I drew from his statement), I was beyond gobsmacked. Why would a course rep who barely knew me sell me so cheaply?

‘Daddy, that’s not true’ I knelt as I feigned a cry.

‘I am your daughter. I don’t know who told you that and why they said that about me but it isn’t true sir’

‘Stop calling me Daddy’ he bellowed, ‘I am not your Dad’

At this point, I knew whatever script we had (my friend and I) written was not going to work. This was clearly a man on heat, bent on having his way.

Change of tactics…..

‘I beg in the name of God, don’t do this to me’

He moved very close to my face. His groin area directly on my face as he cupped the back of my head and repeated hit my face on what was now a hard-on.

I sprung to my feet and made for the door, the same one I bolted myself. He came after me. Oozing like a goat on heat. My mind darted to the lecture on MUSK GLAND and I managed a giggle, of course, in my head. This is going out of hand.

‘Come back here! Behave yourself! What is wrong with you?’

‘No Sir, no sir’ I muttered amidst fake tears. Why the tears never became actual is beyond me to this day. Maybe because I thought we had nailed a plan so I was sure of an escape. What I didn’t realise at that point was that the thick curtains and heavy doors in Prof S’s office were sound proof or at least noise barriers.

He launched at me, pinning me to the wall, and tried to get my face in a kiss position. Then I fought, the tussle was becoming very real with loud bangs and my friend has not come to door. I fought really hard. I started to push him. I kicked his legs even.

When he saw that I was not backing down, he relaxed. He told me I had hit him. I said sorry. Anything to placate him and earn my freedom will do at this time.

‘Are you sure you will not give in?’ ‘Remember you have CRP 203, CRP 302, CRP 401. You are stuck with me for at least another 3 years’.

‘God will help me’. I had said this without thinking it would infuriate him further.

‘Get out!’ ‘Get out of my office!’

I was by the door all along. I quietly unbolted the door and stepped out. It seemed like I had been in there for hours. My friend said I was barely 7 minutes. She said she thought we were having a conversation.

She was there for me but she never heard the bangs!

I escaped that one again.

How I faired, developed guts and graduated is a story for another day but in my 5th year, I made him pay.

Today again, I wish to spotlight the ailment that would have been better off terminal but still persists. The same one that has defied several measures. The very one that permits girls and boys to offer monetary kindness to lecturers in exchange for good grades. This one that allows young girls offer their bodies for marks and very outrageously, encourage young boys offer girls as slaughter lambs to randy lecturers.
My course rep denied ever telling the Professor anything about me but honestly, he can try another line. His come-back was so unconvincing, I wondered how many more he had offered.
There is too much rot in this system. The very root of what ails the system is difficult to challenge.
Maybe, just maybe, social media shaming and naming will do it. But in the meantime, we will not stop this sensitization and empowerment.
#HEAL
#HEALoclock
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