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Sep 24, 2010
  • Dangers of varsity freedom

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    FILE | Nation Participating at the Mr and Miss University of Nairobi beauty contest.
  • At the university, freedom and ‘styling up' may mean distraction from studies - or success beyond your wildest dreams

At 23 Robert* was expelled from a public university in 2008. As a Third Year student, he had only a short time to go to complete his studies.

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Now he might never be that swashbuckling IT specialist he had always dreamt of becoming. The nice office, big car, leafy residence, and all the other trappings of success he had dreamt of were all gone with the wind of irresponsibility.

The only child in a family of four to make it to university, Robert never got to complete his Bachelor's degree in information science.

"Joining a university is one thing. Graduating is another," is all that Robert could tell Springboard.

Robert enrolled at the university bubbling with hope, eagerly looking forward to enjoying the sudden freedom that goes with college life.

Away from his strict parents, he had all the freedom he had always yearned for after coming from a school that never compromised on discipline.

Then raging hormones and the restlessness of youth took over.

"I cleared my first semester smoothly and did all the exams to the best of my ability. After finding my way around the campus, I started taking my studies lightly and could attend lectures as and when I felt like, since no lecturer made a roll call," he recalls.

Robert admits that his way to ruin was influenced by peer - and beer - pressure. This led him to drugs and his eventual expulsion from the institution.

"I began drinking and smoking bhang during the student union's political campaigns. I was the chief campaigner of a classmate who vied for the position of assistant secretary general in the governing council," he explains.

Robert now looks back with regret at the opportunity he squandered.

Having learnt his lesson the hard way, Robert would like any establishment selling alcohol or the mildest of drugs near any university banned and burnt.

The case is no different for female students.

Most of them get caught up in premature relationships known as "Gold rush", in student speak.

The name is borrowed from an advertisement. Other terms used by seniors to describe this phenomenon are "ponyoka na fresher", "jishindie fresher", and "bambua fresher". The latest is "pata fresher Pap!!"

With limited supervision, many students are swept away by the wave of independence to experiment in what they think is "cool" – drugs, destructive politics, and sexual adventure.

With barely any rules to follow, no bells, no prefects, no matrons, and no roll calls, many girls end up abusing the freedom that comes with college life.

The freedom to hang out in a man's room, dress suggestively, or miss a lecture is as alluring as it is potentially career-killing.

Topping the list is the Fresher's Ball, an event usually organised by student organisations to induct First Years into the system. The overnight gig brings together freshmen and continuing students, paving the way for short- and long- term campus relationships.

However, Fourth Year civil engineering student Vera says not all girls are easy prey.

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