By: Tiamiyu Ismail
[Analyses]–Sunday Saanu, a writer and media assistant to the vice chancellor, University of Ibadan, wrote an article he titled; STUDENTS’ PROTEST IN UI: OF CHARACTER AND LEARNING which was published by the punch on the 13th of june 2017. In his article, Saanu presented a model to drive home his point on the prosaicness and triviality of the recent mass protest by the student union of the University of Ibadan. The model describes three types of students namely; the decisive students; the dreaming students and the drifting students.
According to this model, the decisive students which is the first category consist of the apex minded students who do not like protest or any disruption to their academic goal; they simply want to graduate on time and take on the world and their movements usually revolve round the class rooms, library and religious centres, thus, they are not actively involved in unionism or Aluta. The dreaming students are those indigent students aspiring to make good grades in order to secure a better status; they also avoid all sorts of things that could neuter their dreams and they are also not actively involved in unionism. The last category which is the drifting students, consist of the rather unstable but very vocal students who persistently fester on campus like pestilence. They are also called NFA meaning No Future Ambition; they flaunt themselves to be the king makers, the political barons and the commander in chief of the Aluta forces. However, this model as expected of any intellectual efforts has raised a lot of criticisms some of which are constructive and relevant and some of which are shallow and deficient.
The purpose of this article is to examine the philosophical appropriateness of the Sanuus model. But before we delve in to the main discourse, it is pertinent to give a brief background analysis of what a model is; what purpose it serves and what constitute its limitations. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary 8th edition, a model is a simple description of a system, used for explaining how something works or calculating what might happen. In another definition, a model is a simplified representation used to explain the workings of a real world system or events. Essentially, a model is a conceptual frame-work consisting of a number of concepts which are used to help people to know, understand or simulate a subject or phenomenon which the model represents. Going by these definitions it can be understood that a model is by no means a fact but a pointer to facts. The essence of models is that they direct us from what we know or seem to know to know what we do not know. Hence, one cannot throw away a model simply because it does not portray one’s reality.
The appreciation of a model must involve the consideration of two fundamental things which include; the model’s substance and its semantic aesthetic. Analysis of the substance of a model will involve such questions as what is the model trying to explain, to what extent does it depicts reality and can it be compared to other models? Apparently, models portray only partial view of reality but they must to an extent give meaning to actions and events. Sanuus model of student-type, to the extent of its strength, satisfies this criteria; it has substance because the three types of students identified actually exist not only within the University of Ibadan where the model was conceived for use but across other schools globally. Thus, an empirical study can be carried out on the basis of this model. Another thing that gives the model substance is that it can be compared to other models. For instance, it can be compared to R.K Mertons strain theory. Mertons model identified five categories of people who react differently to anomic situations in society, institutions or groups. They include; the conformist (those who conform with both the approved goals and means); the innovators (those who agree with the approved goals but reject the means); the ritualists (those who disregard the cultural goal but conform with the means); the retreatist (those who detach themselves completely from both the cultural goals and the institutional means) and the rebels (those who reject both the cultural goals and means but come up with an entirely new system). While the decisive and dreaming students of Saanus model can be likened to the conformist class of the Mertonial model, the drifting ones can be likened to the group of innovators, rebels and retreatists.
Having dealt with the substance of the model, the other task is to consider the semantic aesthetics of the model. Semantic aesthetics in this context entails the critical examination of what concepts are used in the model and how they are used. Concepts in theorizing assume a very vast and different meaning from their common or denotative meanings. Thus understanding a model involves an in-depth understanding of the concept used. This is why proposition and appreciation of models is not an all-comer affairs but an intellectual vocation of grounded intellectuals. A critical look at the Saanus model will evoke in the mind a mastery of art and depth in locution. The words used were carefully and reasonably selected. This can be seen where he described the drifting students as ‘’those who have a foot on gown and another in town… who drift to receive one or two lectures in school and dash to town to participate in political rallies’’. The drifting students in this light does not necessarily imply those who are involved in campus politics but those who have become so addicted to power play that they lose their major priority in school. When they realise this, they use power that they have acquired in the political realm to distract others and cause chaos in the system. A lot of people have tried to contest the term drifting student by coming forth with list of students that are or were involved in campus politics and still achieved academic success. This is a deficient reasoning fashioned out of a shallow understanding of the model, since the model does not condemn unionism or chastise all the politically inclined students.
Another very controversial point raised by Saanu that have appeared to engender serious emotions comes in where he stated that the emergence of a 200-level students as the president of the student’ union of Ibadan status is probably because the decisive and dreaming students have left politics for the drifting students. This is statement he has not presented authoritatively but hypothetically; it is a statement that has a potential for truth and begs for empirical study. Besides, the use of the term ‘’probably’’ in that context has probably exempted him from serious criticisms.
Sanuus model have also raised a lot of other vital issues such as the loss of values and moral decadence among the contemporary students, the myopic tendency and self-centredness of the drifting students, the dilemma of the decisive and dreaming student among many others. Although saanus’ model, like every other model, has its shortcomings, for instance it is a partial view of reality and this is expected of any model for social analysis, and secondly, it does not account for those students who fit in to more than one category, in spite of all these criticisms the model is an intellectual masterpiece in its light. I shall conclude with the sayings of Professor Omololu of the department of sociology, University of Ibadan that “it is easier to criticize a paradigm or model than to develop one”.
Saanu is one distinguished writer that I have known for over four years now. His ability to command pen in the path of truth is what has particularly attracted me and a host of other young writers to him. He is a diligent and very intelligent man. I strongly believe that his model of student-type will speak for him.
Tiamiyu Ismail writes from the department of Sociology, university of Ibadan.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg