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Students And Staff At Durham University Complain Of ‘Apathy’ Over Bullying

University

Students and staff at Durham University complain of ‘apathy’ over bullying

Open letter says situation with Trevelyan College principal is just one example of complacency

Students and staff at the University of Durham have accused management of showing a “culture of apathy” towards bullying and harassment. They said the university’s leaders had allowed “abuses of power, bullying or harassment to continue” and that they no longer trust that the executives value their safety.

The open letter came after the Guardian revealed that a college principal had been allowed to remain in post despite complaints of intimidating behaviour towards colleagues.

Prof Adekunle Adeyeye, the head of Trevelyan College, is alleged to have reduced colleagues to tears and made sexist remarks. Two people had filed formal grievances against him in 16 months and three have departed because of concerns about his manner.

He stepped down from the university’s bullying policy committee after the Guardian approached him in August, but he remains in post as college principal.

The letter, signed by 100 staff, alumni and group leaders representing nearly 8,000 students, said the Adeyeye matter was “just one example of a culture that has been seen time and time again among both staff and students”.

Anya Chuykov, president of the university’s Intersectional Feminism Society, accused management of an “unacceptable” complacency in tackling bullying and misogyny.

“The university should be setting an example at an administrative level,” she said. “Instead, it is showing both students and staff that poor behaviour can be excused and that their safety and concerns are not worthy of attention.

“This is not an isolated incident, and the behaviour of Durham University speaks to the toxic atmosphere that so many students and staff must live with at universities and schools up and down the country. Students and staff must join forces to dismantle this culture of permissiveness towards bullying, harassment and misogyny.”

Durham University said it does not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination on campus and said it condemned any incidents of bullying, harassment or misogyny “in the strongest possible terms”.

It added: “We are always open to hearing directly from students or staff regarding concerns or suggestions, and would welcome the opportunity to meet the organisers of the open letter to understand their experiences as well as the evidence.

“We have recently taken measures to promote openness and transparency on student conduct cases through publicly communicating outcomes and we are working with students to rebuild confidence that that we will listen, investigate promptly and take decisive action.”

Adeyeye was contacted for comment.

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Education

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and several others to appear before the lawmakers on Thursday next week

Gbajabiamila, who said this on Thursday at the resumed fact-finding meeting on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Universities (ASUU), also invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; the Accountant General of the Federation; Director General, Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission; the Director General Budget Office among others.

As part of the push to resolve the lingering ASUU strike, Gbajabiamila, alongside his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House on Thursday met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS),  the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, among other government officials.

Thursday’s meeting was a sequel to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting led the House leadership to invite the Head of Service, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, and the Accountant General of the Federation, among others.

“At Thursday’s meeting, NITDA told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and JUNE this year,” the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, said in a statement.

“According to a NITDA official at the meeting, the government directed the agency to test UTAS in October 2020, adding that the platform failed the two integrity tests conducted on it.

“He said following the first test, ASUU was asked to go back and review, which it did. Yet, the platform did not meet NITDA’s requirements the second time.

“For the third time, NITDA was then asked to conduct tests on UTAS, IPPIS, and U3PS, which the official said all three platforms failed its requirements regarding the payroll system of universities.”

Lasisi added that “Not satisfied with the explanation, Speaker Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by the government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

“Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried the IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.

Deputy Speaker Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised the government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

“But the Head of Service, in her explanation, said the ministry of communications and digital economy wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a committee was empaneled to carry out the assignment.

“She also noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

“Also, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

“He said, however, that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.

“He said he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

“Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

“After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.”

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Education

Bad Leadership Causing Poor State Of Universities- Ebonyi Varsity V.C

The Vice-Chancellor of David Umahi Federal University of Health Sciences, Uburu, Ebonyi State, Prof. Jesse Uneke, has attributed the failure of most government-owned universities in the country to poor leadership.

He stated this during a press briefing at the university’s conference hall, in Uburu, Thursday.

He said, “A lot of universities have issues and problems, and most times, people blame it on the Federal Government. That ought not to be. Most of the problems in the nation’s universities are caused by bad leadership. This is very critical.

“If you go to any university and you find that things are not moving well, check the leadership. If the government is giving you salaries, giving you capital projects and giving you recurrent; for goodness sake, all you just need is to have a good leadership and management, the university wouldn’t have problems.

“That’s the challenge we are having. But I don’t want to go into that. However, I want you to understand that the failure of some the universities we have in Nigeria is not because the government is not doing its best; it has been as a result of bad leadership”, he added.

 

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Education

Court Order Does Not Affect Negotiations With ASUU- F.G

The Federal Government has restated its commitment to ongoing negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU despite the court order asking the lecturers to resume to classes.

Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, said this on Wednesday when members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics paid him a visit in Abuja

Speaking on the court ruling, Ngige said the federal government is still open to negotiations with ASUU.

“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations,’’ he said.

“It is no victor, no vanquished.

“You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU. But you are here, even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.

“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students.”

The minister also spoke on the recent meeting between ASUU and the leadership of the house of representatives, and commended Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, and other lawmakers for their efforts.

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