Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.
My favourite hack to avoid any embarrassing situation is to stick to what I’ve made out to be my business. Sometimes, it works. At other times, it doesn’t. Looking back to my time at the university, I realised that a lot of sticky situations I dealt with didn’t happen because I flouted this rule. They happened because I was on a campus where there’s not much you can avoid.
This week, I talked to students at University of Jos and asked them to talk about an event they found really embarrassing. These are their stories:
Anna — My lecturer made lewd comments about my body
In 200 level, I wore an off-shoulder gown I liked because it was comfortable to a morning lecture. In the middle of the class, the lecturer asked a question. I knew the answer, so I stood up. Before I could say anything, the lecturer gave me a look and motioned for me to stop. He asked me why I dressed like that to class.
I was thinking about the best way to deal with the situation when he said “I feel like you dressed this way to tell me your breasts are still standing.”
He said this in front of the class, and of course, everyone burst into laughter. Some turned to look at me. I didn’t know what to do or say.
I took the embarrassment the best way I could and took my seat. Fortunately, none of my classmates said anything about it after the class, or ever.
Stephanie — The security head at my faculty accused me of being a cultist
Bags are not allowed in my faculty. There is a cultism problem, and these guys hid their weapons inside their bags. But I always needed to go to class with my bag and this caused a lot of run-ins with the security guys.
On this day, I was really late for a test. I got to the faculty and the security guys stopped me because I had my bag with me. They asked me to go after they checked my school receipt.
The head of the security division saw what was happening and called me. When I got to her, she pointed at the Sativa pendant I wore around my neck and asked me if I had it on at the faculty. The next thing she called me was a cultist.
There is no record of a female cultist in the school, yet she called me one. She didn’t stop there — she started to say some really offensive things to me. It didn’t help that I brought a bag with me. That gave her leverage and she took advantage of it.
I didn’t exchange words with her but I was red with embarrassment because a small crowd had gathered to watch. It was a pendant that didn’t mean a thing.
In the end, she let me go but I missed my test. Also, the pendant was confiscated and I had to write a letter to the security division stating that I’m not a cultist.
Precious — I had to beg for ₦50 to pay for my ride
I had to be in school by 7 AM, but I got a late headstart. When I thought I was ready, I grabbed my bag and dashed out of my room. I flagged down a Keke and jumped in. Halfway through the trip, I reached into my bag to grab my purse, which had my money. It wasn’t there. I realised, with horror, that I had forgotten my purse inside my room.
It was too late to get down. The best thing to do was to ask one of the other passengers to help me. I marked the guy next to me and figured that I could ask him. We got to the main campus and the keke stopped for us to pay and be on our way. For some reason, the other passengers didn’t get off immediately. I’d hoped to ask the guy when they were gone.
Other people were scrambling to get in, and the Keke man was asking me to pay up. I managed to get the word across to the guy, although the other people heard. With the way they looked at me, it was clear that they thought I was lying. Luckily, the guy I asked was warmer — he didn’t even let me finish before he dipped into his pockets and fetched the #50 that I needed. I was embarrassed but I was also relieved that it was over, The Keke man didn’t look like he had any chill in him.
Chiamaka — An invigilator called me out in the middle of an exam
I was in the hall, writing an Accounting exam. At some point, I realised that my ledgers did not balance. In my panic, I forgot the lecturer had warned us of that possibility. Something about the tool he used.
I tapped my friend to tell her what I was dealing with. We were in a big hall and the invigilator shouldn’t have seen me, but he did. He came to me and asked for what I told my friend. I denied ever speaking to her. When I realised that he knew what he was talking about, I apologised.
Before I could finish the apology, he ripped my answer booklet out of my hands and went away with it. I looked around and saw that everyone in the examination hall had their eyes on me. And this was a course the entire faculty took.
I dashed after him to beg. He completely ignored me, and I went back to my seat. I was close to tears. The only reason I didn’t lose it completely was that I was almost done with the exam. 15 minutes later, he came back, changed my seat and returned my booklet to me.
Everything worked out. I got an A in the course. However, those 15 minutes were really embarrassing for me. There’s nothing unnerving like being called out for wrongdoing in front of a large class.
Jasmin — A hostel official shouted down at me
I’d just paid my school fees. The next thing to do was to collect the hostel form and apply for room space. I didn’t get it on the first day because the hostel officials ran out of forms. On the second day, I went earlier than usual to beat the long queues. It took these people hours before they showed up to their office.
The man in charge of the forms wouldn’t give them out to anybody. He only attended to people who had some weight behind them. Sometime in the afternoon, he stepped out of his office. I, together with two other ladies saw an opportunity here to approach him and plead with him. We did exactly that — this man didn’t take kindly to this. He asked us what we wanted and we told him, hoping to appeal to his senses.
There was a lot of ways he could have dealt with it. He could have told us off gently, but no. He shouted down at us and went on his way. I was shaken to the core and felt so small. Tears even welled up in my eyes, and I had to do a lot to hold myself together.
With everything that happened, I didn’t get the hostel form on that day. I had to come back the following day before I got it. Clearing my room was another thing, but that’s a story for another day.
Can’t get enough Aluta and Chill? Check back every Thursday at 9 AM for a new episode. Find other stories in the series here.