By Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Like mainstream media outfits, campus publications and efforts of student-journalists also help in shaping public opinions as they provide relevant information. Aside from keeping students and their universities’ updated on relevant issues, they aid in upholding the freedom of speech and expression.
If priority will be given to campus journalists, just the way Students’ Union Governments, in our various higher institutions, are permitted to freely operate, they would have effectively played their role as the society’s watchdog in campuses.
But unfortunately, that is not the case. Rather, they have become objects of victimisation by ‘overbearing’ school authorities.
Many campus journalists, across the country, have bitter tales to share on how they were ‘victimised’ by school managements over ‘offensive’ stories and articles they had published.
Abdulsalam Mahmud a former CampusLife reporter had his certificate witheld for more than three years by authorities at Fati Lami Abubakar Institute of Legal and Administrative Studies(FLAILAS), Niger State, for writing a story deemed ‘injurious’ and ‘offensive’.
Mahmud’s story entitled : “Varsity applicants battle institute for results” was written to ensure school authorities quickly release students’ results.But it turned out otherwise.
Also, a campus journalist from Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, and an investigative reporter, Olarotimi Ibrahim faced series of intimidation and harassment for reporting the case of some students who had accommodation problem and resorted to sleeping in side the bush.
He was suspended for some semesters by the school,but was later reinstated.
Reports of this nature are aimed at improving the standard of our universities; they should not be seen as malicious.
Also, another story is that of a campus journalist from IBB University Lapai, Niger State. I exposed misappropriation and embezzlement of funds in the Students’ Union Government of 2018/2019 administration.
Both the school management and the SUG condemned the report. They labelled it offensive and said it was capable of ridiculing the image of the institution and the student involved.
I was called to the Dean Students’ Affairs unit and warned not to write such stories anymore as I risked expulsion.
Amid the tales of victimisation suffered by campus journalists, the union of campus journalists in our various institutions must be well-equipped to function as any other professional body.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) should help to curb harassment and victimisation of innocent student-journalists who are offering thankless services of informing and educating university communities.
Also, school authorities should outline rules to guide the practice of campus journalism. They should not be too strict. Campus journalism has done quite much in terms of sanitising our schools. It must not be allowed to die.
- Abaga is a 400-Level Mass Communication student of IBB University Lapai, Niger State.