I have followed with keen interest the public discourse on the Sex for Grades exposé initiated by the BBC and the furore it has generated.
In all the discussions, the impression seems to be that students are blameless in the shameful act of exchanging sexual favours for grades.
Let me hasten to concede that there are many occasions that the male lecturers – including Teaching Assistants – make lascivious advances towards female students with the promise of helping them secure undeserved grades. In many cases, such advances are made in the direction of the below-average female students who may be in danger of failure without some form of “help”.
The truth is that such female students easily give in to such advances and get their “grades” in the end so that they can graduate honourably and thereby avoid the shame of failure. They don’t complain. Those who resist such advances always believe that they have what it is to pass without any “help” from the male lecturers.
I must state however that sometimes the amorous overtures are initiated by the female students themselves towards the male lecturers. In the 2009 and 2010 academic years, I was an adjunct lecturer in GIMPA and came face to face with this problem. I was considered by my students as being snubbish because I would not spare some time after class to engage them in conversation. It was deliberate. Some female students tried to have individual personal association with me but I politely turned them down.
Then some four ladies mustered the courage to approach me with a case of negligence against one of them and sought my professional advice. They even wanted to engage my services to file a lawsuit for her. Realising that she would get only insignificant nominal damages at the end of the case, I advised them against the court action.
They left very disappointed because my advice effectively ended the acquaintance they had struck with me. Surprisingly they did not instruct any other lawyer to pursue the case for them. It was later that one of them confided in a friend of mine that their real intention was to find ways of getting me to enter into some unholy association with each of them in turn. Their ultimate aim was to win my favours to award them undeserved marks or to give them examination questions ahead of time.
In the case of the male students, their quid pro quo was exhibited in giving cash and other valuable gifts to the lecturers.
In my stay at GIMPA, a number of male students made such attempts. On one occasion, I called my senior colleagues at the law firm of Messrs. Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co. to advise the two male students involved.
As fate would have it, those students didn’t pass well.
My aim here is to drive home the point that the problem of receiving grades in exchange of different forms of favours from students is real. We must have a holistic discussion of the problem and deal with it decisively.
The students are not without blame. Some of them are active players.