Lecturer-student relationship by Dr (Mrs) G.A. Ikhimwin, University of Benin


14TH JULY, 2021

The Dean Sir
All Professors Present
All Heads of Department Present
All Academic and Non-Academic Staff Present
The Newly Converted Academic Staff

Good Day

Let me begin by thanking the Dean for this rare opportunity to deliver a speech on this great occasion. I must confess that this initiative by the Dean to organize this orientation for our newly converted Academic Staff goes to show the fatherly nature of our amiable Dean who is always concerned with the wellbeing of every staff in this great faculty of ours. Mr. Dean Sir, we truly appreciate you for all you do!
The topic given to me today is very significant in the University system and especially as it concerns the image, human relations outlook and emotional news casting of our great faculty. The relationship between lecturers and students is not a simple one that can be easily defined. Like most concepts in the Arts and Humanities, this topic must be treated with reference to certain subject matters. Hence, Lecturer-Student Relationship is best handled with reference to ethics within the profession. Such ethics include:

  1. Ethical Physical Distancing
  2. Ethical Emotional Distancing
  3. Ethical Relations with Students
  4. Ethical Evaluation of Feedbacks

Ethical Physical Distancing

It is important to know that there must be measures put in place to create a safe physical distance between a lecturer and his/her students. Such physical safe distance ensures that the lecturer is not taken for granted and also, the students do not have the means to verbally accuse a lecturer directly or indirectly.

Furthermore, physical distancing retains the awe and respect expected of a lecturer from students. It is true that we often become academic parents or mentors to some of these students but we must not forget the human nature which begets contempt from over familiarity. You can be an academic parent, counselor, instructor or mentor and still maintain physical distance that will keep your respect and honor intact.

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The idea of physical distancing is not gender sensitive. It does not discriminate no matter the sex involved. This indicates that physical distancing should not only be between the opposite sexes especially between male lecturers and female students. Even for male students, the male lecturer must maintain a healthy physical distance and so, it is for the females too. Social exchanges must be left within the boundaries of formal expressions. As an academic staff, your office must not become a reception room where students can sit and wait for whatever reason. A lecturer’s table should not become a gist desk for seeking or crushing students and their likes. Strict adherence to these principles of physical distancing in an academic world like ours sustains with no doubt, a healthy relationship between lecturers and their students.

  1. Ethical Emotional Distancing Secondly, emotional distancing must be maintained. We have had cases where students developed romantic feelings for their lecturers. This will definitely happen between opposite sexes especially when you teach well, speak well, dress well, smell nice and maintain open arms to those who come close to you. It is imperative to know that you can be actively involved in a student’s life without having to maintain a tactile relationship. Many of these young female students develop feelings for their male lecturers and where there is no maturity or discipline, indulgence often follows.
    When lecturers don’t maintain emotional distance with their students, the line between professionalism and carefree indulgence is blurred. Most times, these students will use their experience with one lecturer to make a generalization for other lecturers. Pet names must be avoided. House visits, romantic jokes, intimate chats and allied matters must be withheld from the students. As a male lecturer, many of the young ladies will even woo you but you must bear in mind that they are your children. The female lecturers are not left out. You must be careful with how you allow male and female students come close to you. There are cases where male students have been found to have romantic affairs with their female lecturers. We are not here to judge anybody! The reality is that whosoever you spend time with will definitely rub off on you in ways that lead to your heart losing out to your mind.
  2. Ethical Relations with Students Thirdly, for ethical relations with students, the focus is on academics with respect to teaching and assessments. Classes are for teaching and not for telling stories of your past and future. Lecture times are not for cracking jokes. You must be firm and flexible at the same time when it comes to your lectures. You must bear in mind that the students are here to study. If they knew it all, they would not be here. You must avoid using swear words on students during lectures in order to maintain a healthy relationship between you as the lecturer and the students.
    Students should not stroll into your class without concern. Students must look forward to your classes. These are all possible because of the way you relate with them from the very first lecture. If your students know you as a story teller, you will have 200 students showing up for an examination that only 70 persons attended classes for.
    Always learn to refer students to their Course Advisers or the Students’ Staff Adviser. You are not a mediator or an advocate of the students. Just focus on your job and the others will fall in line. During assessments, ethics must be maintained. There should be no favoritism regarding Areas of Concentration (AOC), Continuous Assessment (CA) and examination supervisions. Students do not have or keep secrets. When you break the rules in the name of favoring those who you think are close to you, they will go about telling everyone. Students see your bending and breaking of rules for them as a show of pride that must be announced so others can know that they are the favorite ones. Hence when relating with students with reference to teaching and assessments, the lecturer must take a balanced stand and treat everyone fairly.
  3. Ethical Evaluation of Feedbacks
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Lastly, a lecturer must be very tactful in the way he or she asks for and handles feedbacks from students. Feedbacks must not be used to monitor or witch-hunt other lecturers or students. Most lecturers have spies in every level and class that report activities of students and lecturers to them. When students know that you are that gullible, they will keep feeding you with lies and news that will eventually lead to your being bitter towards other students, a particular class or a colleague. Therefore, you must be tactful in asking for and handling feedbacks. Don’t allow the students become too comfortable with reporting every detail to you. Be sure of this: whatever you say in reaction to the feedbacks you get will find its way back to the other party. Always know and believe that you cannot be promoted or given an award when you struggle to bring a fellow colleague down. Remember, ‘what you sow is what you reap’. This is simply the reason why the Americans will say, karma is a bitch!

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So far, my discussion has been on Lecturer-Student relationship. It is worthy to note here that a positive Lecturer-Student relationship leads to more connectedness, positive high self-esteem and better academic performance. You must know also that such positive relationship reduces intellectual frictions, stress and tensions. It also creates a more positive and conducive climate for academic activities and performance.

I welcome all our newly converted Academic Staff once again to this great Faculty. God bless the Faculty of Arts, God bless the University of Benin and God bless our Country Nigeria.

Thank you.

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