By Victoria Akingbemila
“The easiest way to preserve a toxic norm is by turning a blind eye to its existence while hoping it fades away someday. Sadly, hope is not a strategy.”
Popular mythology has it that in 1184 B.C., the Greeks crafted a sinister plan to take down the city of Troy, using a Trojan Horse. The horse, camouflaged as a gift indicating surrender, housed some of the most skilled Greek soldiers. Upon acceptance and introduction to Troy, these soldiers broke out of the horse and laid waste to the people of Troy. Greece won the war. Today, the Trojan Horse gift is a cautionary tale, referring to something that looks good on the outside, but conceals the true intention or purpose, which most times, is evil.
In today’s article, the men that champion October/Freshers rush, are the Trojan Horse.
The University environment is often touted as a different world that tests the tenacity and will of even the most dogged. When a student, especially females, gets admitted into higher institutions at very young ages, it raises the question of ‘Survival’ in a world that ought to be a seemingly safe space, primarily for knowledge acquisition. The question of survival is often not predicated on the inability of the students to thrive intellectually, but on navigating the murky waters of some deep-rooted cultural inherencies that have been preserved within our higher institutions. This is the story of the October Rush, a culture that has always existed but never been addressed or even viewed as a problem.
For most universities, new students are taken in by September and are expected to finalize admission processes and resume classes by October, hence the Culture has been christened October Rush, at least in most universities. While the month of admission, or resumption might vary, one thing that remains constant is the existence of the perverse culture within the higher institution environment. The underlying principle of this Culture is older male students ‘Having a Feast’. Here, male students in higher levels see an opportunity to “Catch them young”.
The older students act with the knowledge of the naivety that characterizes most of the new female students, who are probably independent for the first time in their life, underage as they usually fall between the ages of 14 – 18 and must navigate these structures alone. So, they get exploited.
Following conversations with the affected female students, they revealed that these men carry out their clandestine activities by simply cloaking them with opportunities to be of assistance to unsuspecting younger female students. It is often helping with admission processes, assisting in navigating the institution, settling down in departments, aiding with tutorials, etc. These men in many instances have also cloaked their perverse intentions in religion. Organizing fellowships to build the spiritual lives of these female students, shortly after proposing a seemingly harmless relationship to the student. Claims of love and devotion are made, but the intention often is sexual in nature.
A weird sense of conquest comes from being able to “Acquire, Use and Dump”, as a celebration of manhood.
This is not however intended to assume everyone who offers to help a new student is predatory in nature, but after speaking to several ladies about their October Rush experiences, these seemed to be the most utilized techniques by older male students to prey on the newly admitted female students. After hearing various ladies share their October Rush experience, one immutable part of every story is the objectification these ladies have encountered while living through this culture. Having to be viewed as objects for satisfying their sexual depravities. Worthy of note is that most of the time, these men, usually 18 years and above, understand that these female students are underaged. However, it appears that this knowledge excites them and further deepens their interests in these women. Understanding that their naivety can easily be exploited and that they would remain quiet because of the blame society would place on them, these men continue with free rein, leaving the women with years’ worth of trauma and emotional or in some cases, physical scars.
Society always either places the blame on the victims, downplay the severity of the problem, or prescribes survival mechanisms for women in scenarios like this. They accuse the exploited women of being “loose” or dumb enough to fall for their antics. This cultural menace that has existed in our higher institutions would never come to an end without first recognizing it as a problem, to begin with. Female freshers would never be safe or free from the reach of perverted older students unless this problem is fully regarded as such. A PROBLEM that needs addressing.