One of the things that hit students when they come to campus for the first time is the freedom. No one cares what you do, how you live your life and who you hang out with. How a student utilizes this unprecedented limitless freedom to chat the path of their lives eventually determine how they turn out.
At the height of the illicit brew campaign in Central Kenya, the general debate on alcoholism cropped up. Majority of the people argued that campus freedom was a contributing factor since the students have much time on their hands and some money to spend. Some proposed that the legal drinking age be raised to 21 like the US unlike in Kenya where it is 18 years. Opponents of this proposal argued that even if the legal drinking age was 90, people would still drink given that our legal system is a cheap commodity which can be cheated by greasing a few police palms. A few years back, a top university in the United States sought to limit the freedom of its students by putting in some laws that would see the freedom of dressing as one wished curtailed. The laws also barred men from platting their hair and also stipulated that missing of classes was illegal and was punishable through deduction of marks. Protests broke out within the university and the backlash even higher on social media. Consequently the proposal never saw the light of day.
Campus freedom is a curse to some and a blessing to others, depending on who you ask. The birth of Facebook by campus students Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Muscovitz is an example used by many to show that campus freedom is a blessing.
Others on this list include Reddit founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, Evan Spiegel of Snap chat and most notably Bill Gates, the Sultan of the Microsoft Empire.
Closer home, DJ Kaytrixx is another example who would be classified as a positive example of people who made a life courtesy of campus freedom. It all started out while he was at Moi University and the Code Red DJ crew happened to come to the university to do an event. He showcased his mastery of the turn tables and the Code Red DJ crew to an interest in him. He then went on to be trained as a professional DJ under the supervision of veteran DJ, DJ Stylez. Kaytrixx went on to make a name for himself through a music television show ‘Straight up’ which airs on KTN. He is now the CEO of Spin Cycle Limited, similar to HomeBoyz Company and Supremacy Sounds.
It is argued that these campus startups that became wildly successful succeeded since the founders had all the time to make all the mistakes a business makes while starting out, as well as factors of production at hand. If the businesses failed, they had the option of going back to class. It is also said that if these entrepreneurs never seized the opportunity when it came knocking, the companies would never have emerged.
On the flipside, campus freedom has been blamed for early pregnancies amongst university students as a result of the urge to experiment and the free hand to do as one wished. Alcohol addiction is also rampant among university students and this has been blamed on the behaviour of students who party every night and go and sleep over the hangover during the day instead of being in class. Such students have nothing to show for their time in campus and only end up being miserable in life. Even though help is or can be sought in the name of rehabilitation, it’s often the case of too little too late since the time wasted at campus cannot be recovered.
Of recent concern has been the mysterious deaths of campus students in cult-like fashion. This has been attributed to the urge of many people wanting to join cults with the promise of being wealthy and powerful like much of what we see in the media in terms of music videos and movies. This is a clear signal that campus freedom does take a tall on morality since with freedom, one can opt not to go to the places of worship, unlike in high school and primary where refusal to go for service would earn you a date with the principal and headmaster respectively. Decline in morality has also been blamed for crimes within the university such as kidnapping and murder over love issues among other things.
A fool can make money but it takes a wise man to spend it. Everybody wants freedom but it takes wise planning and thinking to benefit from it. If one does not plan on how to use the freedom availed, he will fall for anything that comes across his path whether good or bad and most probably, the bad. Whichever way one thinks of it, the question still remains, is campus freedom a blessing or a curse? The jury is out.
By Brian Murithi