• Addressing Moral Decay in Tertiary Institutions.

    Moral decadence in tertiary institutions is increasingly becoming rampant on a daily basis. Institutions of learning, where moral values ought to be acquired have become “show grounds” for different kinds of immoral activities.

    Before now, decency especially in dressing is identified as a vital feature of African, as well as Nigerian culture.

    Decency in dressing has so much to do with the acceptable moral values and qualities of the appearance of an individual or group of persons. A dress is said to be indecent when it is morally or sexually offensive, or when such dress exposes some parts of the body that are meant to be covered. As the local adage says, “the way you dress, so you will be addressed.”

    Like other vices such as drug abuse, cultism, and prostitution, indecent dressings in Nigerian tertiary institutions have become the order of the day. Indecent or crazy dressing, also known as “dress to kill” is rampant among students of universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education, particularly the female ones.

    These students dress indecently, all in the name of wanting to look “sexy,” “sensuous,” “tantalizing” and “stimulating,” forgetting that they ought to look responsible and sleek. Today, female students deliberately expose some sensitive parts of their bodies to draw the attention of the opposite sex. This pattern of dressing has been condemned by many right-thinking individuals who described it as “improper and unacceptable” because it portrays the highest level of immorality in society.

    Our society is experiencing a serious decline in moral values. This is immorality is not only limited to campuses of Nigerian tertiary institutions but the society at large. Along the streets and in public places, it is very common to see people go almost nude all in the name of modern fashion. Females parade themselves along the streets without any life of shame as they expose the vital organs of their physical frame of lookery. Although it is not only the ladies who dress indecently today, even boys do. Youths are fond of dressing half-naked in public; displaying their private parts to attract the attention of the opposite sex. Apart from wearing short skirts, female students display their boobs as a cheap means of getting attention.

    At present time, sagging trousers also known as “low waist” or “ass down” by young men and women; in addition to wearing skimpy clothes called “fitted;” strapless tops with cleavages; short blouses; and sleeveless shirts called “spaghetti or off-shoulder,” are evident in the dress pattern of students. These are major problems associated with decency in dressing faced in many tertiary institutions in Nigeria and Africa at large. Besides the skimpy and tight-fitting nature of these dresses, they are again transparent; revealing certain parts of the body that under normal circumstances, ought to be hidden from the glare of people. Ironically, these are the renowned modern fashion trends of the present time.

    Different thoughts have been advanced as reasons why youths dress indecently. These include poor parenting, peer pressure, wrong use of the Internet, fading values as well as demonic influence, and so on. The negative implications of indecent dressing especially among female students are that they fall victims to rape on campus; they are lured into prostitution by peers because of the way they dress and subsequently, they are tempted and influenced to become members of one cult group or the other. All of these result in poor academic performance.

    To address these problems in Nigerian tertiary institutions, incentive measures need to be taken by the government and the authorities of tertiary institutions. Importantly, youths and students should be sensitized and educated about the potential dangers associated with immorality and indecent dressing. Staff and students of tertiary institutions should be given periodic orientation on the need for good moral conduct. They should be educated on what is expected of them and why moral values are required in man’s life.

    Noteworthy are the efforts of the authorities of numerous institutions to reduce the menace of indecent dressing on Nigerian campuses through the introduction of dress codes for students. Strict rules enforcing students’ compliance with the dress codes have been introduced in some universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education across the country.

    These rules are strictly enforced, as lecturers are mandated to walk students who do not dress in accordance with the code out of lecture halls. These efforts are highly commendable. But the fact remains that “charity begins at home.” For these rules to be properly enforced, members of staff and management of tertiary institutions must “lead by good examples.” This implies that they must also dress decently.

    Dress codes can be properly enforced on campuses through the collective efforts of management, staff, and security personnel of tertiary institutions. As Omede Jacob of the Department of Educational Psychology at the Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa noted in 2011, “some colleges and universities in Nigeria have variously introduced dress codes for their students. According to him, the problem is not just in making the rules but in their enforcement.

    For these rules to be enforced, lecturers should be made to collaborate with the college or university management staff and their security personnel. Lecturers are to be empowered to prevent indecently dressed students from attending their lectures and refuse to attend to such students in their areas of need. The administrative staff should disallow such students from their offices while the security staff should serve as watchdogs. They should be allowed to open a record in their office for immodestly dressed students and forward such names, particularly those who are not first offenders to the disciplinary committee of the college or university for appropriate sanction that the code must have spelled out.”

    To further complement the efforts of the management of the tertiary institutions in reducing the widespread immorality on Nigerian campuses, parents should also be of good moral examples to their children. Parents should monitor and regulate the films their children watch at homes. It is believed that, through home videos, satellites, and other media agents, wrong values, and fashions (modern, modest and immodest) are traded across cultures and nations. As agents of socialization, the mass media must promote good moral values.

    The display of indecently dressed young girls (nudity) in advertisements and promotions should be discouraged. Radio and television programmes that promote moral values and the sanctity of sex should always be transmitted.

    There is also the need to regulate the use of the Internet, especially among youth, because the majority of the youths are exposed to different kinds of immoral activities on the Internet. This is evident in the number of pornographic videos, advertisements, fashion parades, and music that are being spread across boundaries unregulated.

    Indispensably, the role of religious leaders is also needed to reduce the level of immorality in society. Clergymen must preach against immorality in society, and counsel and deliver those under demonic influence.

    Written by Ahmad Muhammad Auwal (400-level, Mass Comm. student, NSUK)

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