Parents and students at the Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, have described as ‘unjust’ the suspension of undergraduates at the institutions for not attending its Easter Youth Alive programme.
According to them, the rules of their admission did not say it is compulsory for them to attend the programme organised by the faith-based institution.
A 400-level student told our correspondent on Wednesday that over 200 students were affected by the decision of the university.
He said, “We were going for the services in the morning and night and people were getting tired of them because we were also preparing for exams. So, the Vice-Chancellor got angry and ordered that those who missed the services be sanctioned.
“Some were suspended for four weeks and those who had missed eight services for the four days got a year.”
Another 300-level student said some of them had been prevented from sitting for exams and they had no means of protesting the sanction which he said was ‘unfair’.
“The mood in the school is really tense. Though students are not protesting, they are angry because you are preparing for an exam you’re not sure you will sit for it until the paper starts.
“They stopped me from sitting for a paper last week because I did not go for a service and I don’t know if I will be allowed in today either.”
A concerned parent, who took to a social media platform to register her displeasure, said the punishment, especially, for final year students was not commensurate with the offences committed.
She said the university’s management should consider the impact of their decisions on the future of the students, in addition to the financial consequences of an extra year on parents in a recession.
“Is there no better punishment to give to these students than suspension for a year? What culture are you trying to imbibe into them? When they are suspended, will they go home and become better people? What are the lecturers and counsellors in the school for? What are the various Bible studies or programmes in the school for?
“These students have barely two or three months before project defence and graduation, (they) have exams coming up and the school wakes up and decides to suspend them for a year? And what happens to the fees paid for the year? In this economic recession, parents should cough out close to a million naira again to pay fees?
“Are these programmes organised for just believers? Who did the church come for? Who did Jesus come for? Isn’t it the sinners? What if after every sin we commit, our Almighty Father in Heaven decides to suspend us from this Earth, where will we all be?”
However, another student in the institution told our correspondent that contrary to the news making the rounds, her mates were suspended for leaving the school’s premises without permission during the Easter programme.
According to her, some students who were caught in their hostels during the youth programme also failed the drug tests often conducted on undergraduates in the university.
She said, “It’s not just that they didn’t attend the programme, some failed the drug test while some went out without permission. It’s in the rules and we all know it, the reason why people are angry is that final year students will have an extra year.”
The institution’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Emmanuel Igban, said the university was well within its right to have taken the decision.
He said the students were also aware of the fact that church services were compulsory.
“Depending on the gravity of the offence, students are aware of the rule as contained in the student handbook which they signed to abide with. Chapel attendance is mandatory for all students. A student is expected to attend chapel; either the Tuesday or Thursday Chapel service and all other programmes as directed by the chaplaincy and university management.
“Provision is made for signing of attendance and students are expected to be on their seats at least 15 minutes prior to service. Excuse from chapel requires permission from the office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
“Absence from chapel and Sunday services and other university Assembly (services) attract penalty ranging from letter of warning, suspension to advice to withdraw.”