Opinion: Why UNILAG Should Allow Squatters In The Hostels

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By Johnson Mercy

Not long after the conclusion of the first semester exams held online and periodically physically, the University of Lagos announced a proposed resumption date which was said to be on the 10th of May, 2021. The Dean of Student Affairs (DSA), Prof. Ademola Adeleke,confirmed the predictions of most students as regards physical resumption and of course, this news gladdened the heart of a lot of students as many were already tired of staying at home. Soon after, guidelines for resumption were made public with the inclusion of the instruction that only bonafides were to resume in their hostels and squatters are not allowed. Everyone at first thought it was just the usual rule that guided hostels of which everyone knows that each hostel has at least a squatter even to the extent of having floaters due to the lack of adequate hostels and the unlucky situation of the majority of the students to procuring a bedspace.

It soon dawned on everyone that the school’s management was serious with that instruction and squatters began to worry with some questioning if the school had no plans for them at all. Strict consequences like the banishment of all occupants of any room that accommodated a squatter were attached to the law causing more panic. This situation calls for an answer to the question “Should squatters be treated this way?”, ” Should they be allowed into the hostels despite the intention of the school to keep her ambience corona-free?”.

The fact is that the situation is unfair to the squatters as many squatters live in remote areas such as Ogun state, Benin Republic, Eastern part of Nigeria etc and would find learning in the school environment more conducive. Since the school possibly did a test run with the conduct of the physical examinations, measures applied in curbing the spread of the virus during the physical examinations,could still be applied adequately for squatters. 

It is not the fault of the squatters that the school has a limited amount of bed spaces and they should not be made to carry the cross of the failed system. They are not less of a student than the bonafides and the school should have a strategic plan towards sheltering them. 

Private accommodations off-campus come with exorbitant prices that not all squatters can afford. Imagine paying a rent of 120k naira for just a semester and even if all Unilag’s squatters were to afford it, the closest accommodations won’t still be adequate to contain them. Also, staying off-campus exposes them to more risks following the recent development of crime rates in the country. The school is not only responsible for her bonafides but to squatters as well. This is because they are all part of what makes up the whole of the University of Lagos.

Ideas like a maximum of two squatters per a four-man room, one squatter per a two-man room, four for an eight-man room, etc can be applied for squatters. With proper regulation and strict monitoring of the use of face masks and hand sanitizers will curb the spread of the virus and avenue for the accommodation of more students can be made available.

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