By: Oluremi Ajayi
Cohabitation is generally seen as an act of a man and woman living together and sometimes having marital relationships without being married. Those involved see nothing wrong with it. A brief look at our various campuses today shows that a large number of unmarried students indulge in this act.
It’s no longer news that co-habitation is becoming a common thing among students of tertiary institutions. It is a phenomenon pervading most, if not all, of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria today. The practice is so rife to the point that it has become a usual way of campus life.
This kind of relationships come in various guises and aliases such as campus marriages, campus coupling, school mother and son relationship, etc obviously designed to give this unwholesome act an acceptable nomenclature. This growing trend is gradually eroding the level of morality among youths in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
Cohabitation among students has now become very rampant in most institutions of higher learning. The non-residential accommodation in many higher institutions tend to encourage this new trend of students living together, unlike what was in operation in the olden times. Initially, all students were accommodated within institution’s halls of residence. Those students accommodated within institution’s hall had rules and regulation guiding their stay. Thus within a short time, Nigerian tertiary institutions began to experience challenge of inadequate hostel accommodation, because the population of students continues to grow without corresponding growth in the number of halls of residence and other physical facilities. Therefore, cohabitation became the order of the day among the students in higher institutions of learning.
Cohabitation among individuals of opposite sex is a predisposing factor to the initiation of sexual activities. Cohabitation results in two independent people almost like room-mate, who is sexually involved, instead of being committed to one another for the rest of their lives. Students who should be engaged in serious academic pursuit often end up performing below expectation because of all these distractions.
Research shows that The World Health Organizations observed that, premarital sexual activities among young adults are high and increasing in Africa with the inclusion of Nigeria. Cohabiting students will often engage in unprotected sex which could result in sexually transmitted infections and the much dreaded HIV/ AIDS diseases.
Co-habitation has serious health effect on the female students who may indulge in the use of oral contraceptives in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy which may truncate their educational aspirations. Should pregnancy occur, such female students are more likely to seek abortion as an alternative. This has serious health challenges for such students who may visit quack doctors and medical practitioners without adequate experiences and qualifications. Some may frown at abortion and thus give birth to unwanted babies who may not be properly catered for by these students.
Cohabitation is totally against the norms and values of African society. Allowing young unmarried couple live together especially where they do not have family affinity is often regarded as an outrageous act. Whereas, some students cohabit without allowing their parents to know about it, some parents are the ones encouraging their children to do so due to their inability to meet their basic needs. Many of these students are exposed to risk and harm as they cohabit. Students who cohabit are vulnerable and susceptible to attack and abuse by both outsiders and even their partners. Formerly, the culture of premarital sexual behaviours used to be a taboo in Nigeria. Unfortunately however, the contemporary youths have abandoned this valued tradition for inglorious culture of premarital sexual activities.
Age is another important factor that could influence cohabitation among undergraduates. Now, there are many students that entered the university being very young, hence many of them are naive. Cohabitation is common among undergraduates because many of them are being free for the first time; hence, they tend to enjoy the freedom, independence and are less monitored by either their parents or guardians. Admission to higher institution is considered liberty and freedom to do whatever they like.
The issue of religion is equally an important variable in cohabitation among undergraduates. Most times, those with religious affiliations are less likely to cohabit than those without religious affiliations. At least, the ‘fear of God or The Youth Pastor or Alfa’ keeps many away from engaging in it.
What then is the way out of this ‘mess’? If deliberate steps are not taken by education stakeholders, including managements of tertiary institutions, parents and religious leaders, this anomaly would continue to be on the rise and the society will ultimately suffer for it. The students on the other hand, also have to take responsibilities for them and be aware that the choices they make today will either make or mar them tomorrow.