Of campus lecturer, student affairs

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Chipo Mazarura Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University

Affairs between students and lecturers appear interesting and worth trying out for most students who have not been in them before.

However, most of the students who have been involved in these affairs can testify that most, if not all, of these affairs are toxic.

Almost every student is a potential victim, especially when the relationships sour. These relationships can be detrimental to students in many ways.

Affairs between students and lecturers manifest in two ways – either by consent or by force.

Consent comes into existence when a lecturer and a student freely and voluntarily agree to have an affair, possibly because they both genuinely love each other. It is rare, however, to find such an instance because most of the lecturers are already married and have families.

On the other hand, force plays a significant role in these affairs. It has been said that we do not know what we are capable of until we are cornered. This advice is evidently true in colleges and universities.

When the taste of campus life turns bitter that is when most students start to chase after these lecturers or agree to throw themselves at lecturers in order to survive.

It is true that there are a number of students with inadequate resources and this makes their lives extremely difficult. As a consequence, they resort to seeking financial help and even help with their studies from the lecturers, who in turn take advantage of the students’ plight and undertake to “help” the vulnerable students. As a result of her/his vulnerability, the student has no say whatsoever in such a relationship.

This leads or results in exploitation of the student.

In the majority of such cases, the students, who for the most part are female, offer sex in exchange for the “help” or resources he/she requires.

Some agree to a relationship on a needs basis – that is whenever they are in need of help with their school work or help in the form of other resources.

However, failure to observe and adhere to the rules of this “agreement” by the student, can have adverse effects on the student’s school work as the lecturer can opt not to pay attention to the work of the student, in retaliation.

The desire to be loved and to belong also forces some students to agree to enter into such relationships. This desire is also fuelled by fear of being excluded from friends either from well-resourced backgrounds or friends who are themselves already in such relationships.

Relationships that are a result of mutual consent can themselves turn toxic, especially as they, by nature, are not long-lasting.

This is because in such relationships, it is the lecturers who tend to dictate the pace and nature of the liaison, basing on the difference in ages, and also because it is the lecturers, who have “deep pockets”. The bottom line is that it is exploitation by any other name.

Although students are regarded as adults, it is important to understand that some would still be unable to negotiate relationships and that those in this category are ones that tend to be the “victims”.

In reality, most of the lecturers engaged in this practice do not have a single affair. They tend to be engaged in concurrent multiple relationships with students in addition to their spouses.

For the students involved, the dilemma is that they cannot complain against the existence of other multiple relationships because of the unequal nature of the liaison and that they will be provided for by the lecturers who are party to the affairs.

The outcome, in some of the cases is that these relationships lead to unwanted pregnancies. These affairs account for the rise in campus pregnancies and unfortunately an increase in abortions as students try to deal with the after-effects.

In the worst case scenarios these relationships fuel incidents of HIV, while abortions can result in the students dying.

There can also be psychological trauma for some of the students who enter into these relationships. This is because most of the students only discover later that they were being lied to while they do not have a platform to discuss or get counselling when such relationships turn sour.

Even if a platform existed, fewer of the affected students would be willing to come forward fearing for their reputation and their future. This predicament is a result of social conditioning.

While considered adults, it is my submission that there is need for a mechanism that offers protection for students from the consequences of campus relationships between students and lecturers.

I submit that a conversation on student-lecturer affairs be a component of orientation programmes at colleges and universities, while on the part of parents, it is critical that they find time to sit down their children at the onset of their journey to college or universities, as part of equipping the students for campus life.

Teaching the students about such matters is not necessarily advocating for them to indulge in sexual activities but would be a process of preparing them for the unforeseen and in some cases, the inevitable.

Integrity at colleges and universities should be a highly valued principle.