What is a university?

What you need to know:

  • The idea of a university that I had was being washed away. Perhaps my idea of the university was just fantastic. I had imagined a place with extraordinary buildings, enough space for learning, air conditioners and more specifically a place far better than our secondary schools.

Recently, I visited a government university. As an S. 6 candidate preparing to join campus soon, I was very excited. 

My would-be host had warned me to come dressed like a campuser! I understood the assignment well. I borrowed sneakers from my brother, and clad in my pair of jeans and a fitting shirt strolled into the university gates. It was a buzz of activity with some students sunbathing, others in endless conversations, and quite a number in their lecture rooms. I imagined myself as one of these in a few months ahead. However, I first had to sit in my UACE.

 Actually, I was on campus this particular day to meet one of the second-year university students who was conducting holiday coaching lessons for A-Level Mathematics. At the building where my holiday coach had directed me to find him, I stood waiting. The building housed a science laboratory, a few administrative offices and some lecture rooms.

In the lecture room beside me, an Information Technology (IT) class was going on. The image I saw that day has perturbed me to date. The lecture room was filled to capacity, and many students were standing. They did not have a place to sit. They surrounded the female lecturer like a swarm. She had no breathing space on that sunny day. Her voice competed against the cacophony from the students. I remembered how such a scene would have invited the wrath of the whole staffroom back at my secondary school. 

More so, I imagined the discomfort that students were going through amidst the heat. I was both dumbfounded and displeased. The idea of a university that I had was being washed away. Perhaps my idea of the university was just fantastic. I had imagined a place with extraordinary buildings, enough space for learning, air conditioners and more specifically a place far better than our secondary schools. I always thought of a university as a place more cultured than the rest of society. I returned back home disappointed.

There were many students waiting for the holiday coach that day. We did not meet him. It is very possible that the lecture room from which he hoped to coach us was occupied by one of the lectures. One of his colleagues who had wanted to help find our holiday coach did not have airtime to call. The wait was in vain. I chose to tour around campus, and at each step, something more shocking emerged. 

The culture of trespassing is the worst I have seen anywhere to the extent that the university grassland is like a motocross training ground. I also do not know if the computer lab that I saw was for the whole university or just one college. Even if it were for a college, that was a very small computer lab! I doubt that all students who go to university carry their own laptops. Of course, there were some amusing scenes such as the wonderful cars that the lecturers drive, the well-tended flowers at some of the colleges I passed and the smartness of several students. However, I kept on asking myself, what is a university?

Jethro  Kanyesigye, S. 6 Candidate at Standard College – Ntungamo

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