Opinion: Open letter to Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana

Opinion: Open letter to Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana
Source: Ghana| Georgina Afriyie
Date: 20-10-2019 Time: 04:10:16:pm

Dear Sir,

I feel compelled to write to you at this critical period in your tenure as Vice Chancellor of Ghana’s premier university. Barely a week ago, your university was caught up in the whirlwind of an ugly sex scandal which brought the reputation of Ghana’s premier university to its knees.

This scandal, exposed by no mean a broadcaster than the international British Broadcasting Corporation, showed two employees of your university taking advantage of their elevated positions as senior lecturers to pursue inappropriate relationships with students. The BBC made clear that the two lecturers were specifically targeted for undercover investigation because your students pointed to them as culprits of sexually inappropriate behaviour. And from the video footage that was aired for the whole world to see, the conduct of the lecturers was certainly not beyond reproach.

This scandal, as you know, has sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment in our universities in particular, and our tertiary institutions in general. Student victims are coming out to tell their stories, in some cases pointing to the same lecturers, or others. Rightly so, the University of Ghana has interdicted the lecturers in question, pending further investigations. We understand that a committee will look into the issue and pronounce the final verdict.

Permit me to remind you, with respect, sir, that as Chief Executive Officer of the university and chief disciplinarian, the Ghanaian public and all stakeholders will hold you solely accountable for the work of this committee, and the eventual resolution of this blemish on our cherished university.

In other words, the buck stops with you, and all eyes are on you.

The eyes of thousands of students are on you; students who may have endured harassment in one form or another from the indicted or other lecturers, but who for fear of stigmatization will never speak up. There are students who will only confide in a friend, or a parent, but will never muster the courage to testify to your committee or file a formal complaint.

There are also, those students, who will never dare to testify for fear that even if their testimony succeeds in leading to justice against a lecturer in question, these students will suffer at the hands of colleague lecturers for exposing one of their own. This is one reason why you may be hard-pressed in getting victims to testify to your committee. Some expect that this will provide a convenient excuse for the committee to not come out with anything substantive. And, therefore, keep the status quo.

Likewise, all lecturers around the country are watching, and waiting with interest, particularly those who have become accustomed to using their students as guinea pigs for sexual adventures. Concerned parents are watching closely.

Remember, sir, that the outcome of your committee’s work has huge implications. It has implications not just for your university’s reputation. Other institutions will learn from your example.

You have a great opportunity to set a high standard for professional behaviour in our institutions of learning, and beyond. Or you can simply sweep this matter under the carpet with some vague excuse, and bury this whole drama.

I pray for you, sir. I pray you to find the wisdom and the courage to set the proper standard for our society.  

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Parent

Tema