The meeting with the Students’ Union leaders and students’ representatives of different faculties, departments and halls of residence commenced as at 11:58 AM today, 18 January, 2021. Roughly forty (40) students’ representatives were present in the meeting.
The President of the Students’ Union, Comrade Akeju in starting, quickly pointed out that the union has been in talks with the acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Babatunde Ekanola since Friday on the increment of fees.
The agenda for the meeting included
- Virtual Classes in first semester
- Increment of fees
After stating the agenda, Comrade Akeju made it clear that if we must resume, then virtual classes might be inevitable but we still need to ask what students think about it and also get students’ recommendations.
The meeting started with the first Agenda, Virtual Classes for the first semester
ON VIRTUAL CLASSES
The first speaker, Olaoluwa Olorunfemi a student from Clinical Sciences asked if things don’t get changed until February 20, will classes still hold virtually for Clinical students?
In replying this, the president made him understand that he doesn’t run the decision board, but that the faculties that want special treatment, their provosts and deans have been told to write to the Vice Chancellor.
The president of the faculty of Social Sciences asked if the school had yet decided on what platform we would use for the virtual classes. He also spoke about the UI Coursera platform which students needed their students email to register on. His logic was that if a lot of students have adopted that, then we could say that students can adopt the virtual learning thing. He also mentioned the fact that there are people who do not exactly do normal data because of funds, but WhatsApp data. He then asked how would these set of people be accounted for.
On the possible platform the school will adopt, the president did not have sufficient information on that, but suspects the school might want to use Google Meet or some other common platforms.
Some student leaders proposed that lecturers should be properly oriented on virtual teaching before time. Their claim on this was that there are a number of lecturers who cannot exactly articulate themselves properly in normal physical classes, talk more of virtual classes. The students Union noted their recommendations and promised to discuss it with the school.
Silvia from Human Nutrition said “with Virtual Learning, people will fail o”. She later went on to state reasons including, distractions from home, siting examples of parents who would still demand errands from their children because they are still at home. She also suggested a possibility of groups for classes and courses, where each small group could have tutors assigned to them, ensuring there is proper social distancing and other proper Covid-19 safety measures practised.
The president of the Faculty of Education in his own opinion pointed out that with the situation of things, we have to do virtual classes and that we should help encourage our fellow students to plan so as to ensure that the virtual learning is possible, even if it means buying smart phones and proper data plans.
Moving quickly towards the end point, exams, the chairman of Kenneth Mellanby Hall, Opmost, asked if we will have a virtual or physical exam.
Still on the deliberations about if a virtual class is best or if a physical class can be possible, Olaoluwa Olorunfemi once again, a final year medical student pointed out that if we know how agonising it is to have Covid-19, students would not be deliberating or clamouring for physical classes. He then pointed out that what we should be discussing is how best we can make virtual classes work, and also help the indigent students solve a possible data issue.
Cutting in, the Students’ Union president, Akeju, pointed out that he personally would love to see students resume back in school, but for health sake, it is wisdom to go virtual, but how can we go virtual and still be effective? He then said this is what we should be talking about and also that we are dealing with a lot of students; so, doing physical resumption and classes is not advisable.
In buttressing his point, Olaoluwa Olorunfemi also said, if our university cannot afford a wash hand basin, how will such a government take care of a student infected with Covid-19 in the Intensive Care Unit? This he stated to point out that it is safe we totally do not consider having our way with physical classes but rather focusing on how to get virtual classes to work.
ON SUGGESTIONS AND WAY-FORWARDS TO RUN A GOOD VIRTUAL CLASS SYSTEM
The president of the faculty of Basic Medical Science, Fafure Adeleke, suggested that the lecturers could pre-record their classes, so students can go online and listen or watch the audios or videos at a specific time. He suggested this, pointing out the network connectivity issues we are bound to face in the country, on both lecturers and students side.
The president of the Faculty of Education asked that in as much as there are now plans to move forward with virtual classes, what is the university’s plan for special education students.
After a series of suggestions upon suggestions, it was suggested that a committee, Committee for Virtual Classes is created. The Committee is to sit and come up with workable suggestions from students and recommend these suggestions to the school admin on how best virtual classes can work for students, considering several student limitations. It was suggested that there is a central committee, while each faculty should have their own committee reaching down to departmental levels. The central committee is to be constituted of faculty representatives, some students’ union executives and press men.
ON AGENDA 2 – INCREMENT OF FEES
It was stated that the senate had earlier suggested that since students will probably be around for one semester, they should pay half of the sports fee. They however pointed out that the current increment on sports fee has been on ground prior to the end of the last session, even before Covid-19.
On Medical fees, the admin actually said that the Federal Government had instructed the increase in Medical fees a long time ago, even before Covid-19.
On the increment of the Technology fees, President Akeju pointed out that even prior to the increment and the pandemic, they had planned to push that the school either cancels the technology fee, or increase the amount of data students get per session from 10 gigabytes of data to about 40 gigabytes, only to see an increment to ₦10,000.
The SU President also pointed out that it is absurd for the Technology fee to increase because with virtual classes, in his own estimate, students will roughly spend at least ₦24,000 in four (4) months on data if the school use zoom classes, which is an extra cost for students, specifically, the indigent students. He then said that subsidizing students at the moment is even more a logical thing to do, than an increment in levies.
On Medical fees, Olaoluwa Olorunfemi from ABH pointed out that UIMSA pays for Medical Students’ Health Insurance even after they pay medical fees. He also stated that students in Alexander Brown Hall pay ₦1,100 for COMUI (an intranet data provided by the College of Medicine in ABH and Hospital areas), but the increment in Technology fees still affects them. He then went on to ask how the Students’ Union can help College Students in ABH solve these issues.
Earlier before the meeting, the Vice Chancellor had told the Students’ Union president that he is ready to meet with students’ representatives to hear them out. At about 1 hour 30 minutes into the meeting, the students’ representatives present decided that they would like to meet with the Vice Chancellor. The President pushed a call to the Vice Chancellor, after which he invited the students’ representatives and the union executives to meet with him openly at Trenchard Hall, instead of him coming down to the SRC Chambers. This he said was to ensure proper social distancing, noting the comparably bigger size of Trenchard Hall to the SRC Chambers.
At about 2:41PM, students’ representative had arrived at Trenchard Hall, which was already arranged (chairs well-spaced), in preparation for their arrival.
At about 2:43, the acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Babatunde Ekanola had arrived with his entourage, including the Directors of Sports, Technology and the University Health System (UHS), the Dean of Students and some other members of the university administration.
Read up on the continued meeting with the Vice Chancellor here