Nigerian universities: clean up your act

Nigeria is experiencing an unimaginable horror for this academic: widespread sexual harassment of women students. It’s injust, it’s a corruption of the student-teacher relationship, and it harms their country, that half their potential leaders are abused and blocked from progress.

For years, sexual harassment has been rampant in Nigeria’s universities, but until recently very little was done about it. From Associated Press interviews with officials and 12 female college students, a pattern emerges of women being held back and denied passing grades for rebuffing teachers’ advances, and of being advised by other teachers to give in quietly.

Crippling a young person’s potential and denying them access to knowledge ought to be regarded as a serious crime—these ‘teachers’ are really just felons and rapists.

(via Salon)


  1. twit says

    Sure, from our White Western Eurocentric point of view, it’s easy to say that. But, shouldn’t we refrain from judging other cultures?

  2. Colugo says

    William Kerrigan of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in a discussion on sexual relationships between professors and graduate students in the September 1993 issue of Harper’s:

    “I am not defending Don Juanism, you know, sex for grades and so forth. But there is a kind of student I’ve run across in my career who was working through something that only a professor could help her with. I’m talking about a female student, who, for one reason or another, has unnaturally prolonged her virginity. Maybe there’s a strong father, maybe there’s a religious background. And if she loses her virginity with a man who is not a teacher, she’s going to marry that man, boom. And I don’t think the marriage is going to be very good.”

  3. says


    For that matter, you’re assuming that Nigerian culture endorses rape. I suspect it does not. If it does, it’s wrong.

    This isn’t a matter of culture, it’s a matter of shared humanity. Coerced sex acts are an affront to humanity, not to “White Western Eurocentric” culture, and if you can’t see why then you should probably seek psychiatric help.

  4. says


    Well, I’m a trained anthropologist… that idea of refraining from judging other cultures comes from the “Cultural Relativism” of Boaz … and I can tell you that it just does not wash any more even within anthropology.

    It was easier in those days … to just not have to think about it at all, and assume that “if a culture does it, then it’s OK”

    But then the Nazis came along and their culture was not good. Boaz himself disavowed colleagues who, in the 30s, started to sign their correspondence with a swastika or a “Heil Hitler” … and it is said that he was in the process of railing against Nazi-ism and Racism at the very moment of his death, giving a talk, at which moment he died and fell into the arms of Claude Levi Strauss himself. (One or more elements of that story is probably not true).

    Certain common values have emerged over the last century, one of them being fair and equal treatment by class, gender, race, etc. When such unequal treatment (and worse) is found or emerges, we do not have to play the cultural relativism game.

  5. T. Bruce McNeely says

    Well, it’s sure heartwarming to read the concern that William Kerrigan and his ilk have for their female students. Nice of them to sacrifice themselves for such a noble cause. As they say, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it..

  6. cv says

    It’s a damned satire.
    This is worse than when you actually took troll poppe seriously. HIS NAME IS “TWIT”. Does he have to sign the comment “I’m making a funny”?

  7. Chris Thompson says

    I will send some money over to remedy the problem as soon as my USD14,500,000 comes through from the Nigerian National Oil Conservatory Fund.

    Seriously, that kind of thing just sucks.

  8. says

    cv: Are you talking to me? I sincerely hope not, because I’ll kick that attitude of your right in the ass ass soon as look at you.

    OK, if Twit is joking, that’s good. But I have to tell you, I encounter that exact question on a very regular basis. So for me to recognize that kind of question as satire would be like standing on a street corner in Boston, a tourist from Iowa pulls up in a car and says “Excuse me, how do I get to Quincy Market?” and I’m supposed to figure that it’s satire and not just another lost Iowan in Boston.

    But of course, if their license plate said “TWIT” then I would get it.

    Oh, and mr “cv” please present your name and social security number so I can identify you more exactly. I think you might be that Poppe guy.

    (Aside: OK, now let’s see who gets satire….)

  9. says

    BTW, there’s an amusing piece in Agora: The Public Face of Canadian Philosophy that shows the tension between the Prime Directive (Star Trek watchers know what this is about) and human rights. Personally, I try to stay in the unconfortale middle, but …