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“My College Days In 1990 Were Better Than What My Son Went Through At Christ University”

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By Beena Lal:

If someone asks me what the best time in my life was, without even thinking twice, I would say my college days in a women’s college in Trivandrum back in 1990. I’ve never experienced such a free life before or after that. I don’t remember a security guard standing at the gates. We used to go out and come in whenever we liked. We would go out, do a circle around the college, visit santha glass house, look at the new earrings and walk back.

If a friend from another stream was able to get out of her class and come to our class, we used to jump out of the class through the back door, go to the canteen and sit there for hours. We had very little money to spend but it was enough to buy us vada and tea.

No professor questioned us, no letters went to parents. They treated us like adults and gave us the full freedom to decide what’s good or bad for us. I didn’t attend a single class of Hindi, my second language, but was still able to write the exam. No extra fine was imposed on me, neither were my parents summoned. It was the most wonderful times of my life.

I used to wonder if my son would ever be able to say the same thing about his college life. The answer is NO. As soon as I entered the Christ University campus during his admissions, I was told by a mother that if you wear jeans, the chances of your kid getting admission is almost nil.

The boys were supposed to wear full sleeves and pants and girls were told not to wear tights, leggings or even churi bottoms, anything which might be a little tight. Such an atmosphere can make one feel suffocated.

These are the times these kids can express themselves and feel free. But no. I had to go twice to sit in front of the counsellor as well as the Vice Principal because of shortage in attendance. I’ve seen parents coming all the way from Guwahati and Punjab. All of them were shaking their heads at their plight, waiting for their turn to go inside the room and listen to the speeches of how irresponsible our kids are. Travelling a total of 7 hours to attend this half-an-hour ritual.

At the beginning of the college year, I was summoned to be told that my son is in the company of ‘bad kids’ and I had better ask him to leave that company. I told them clearly that I will not do any such thing, I know those kids and I know my son too. Her response was that all parents trust what the children say and then suffer. My question is – if we don’t trust our kids who else would? If they think one kid is bad for whatever reason they think, isn’t it their responsibility to talk to the child and help them get out of the situation? But that would be a hard job, it is easier to leave them alone and brand them as ‘bad’. Well, if the student isn’t attending classes and fails in examinations, they pay for their ignorance. That’s his punishment which will teach him a lesson. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Treat them with respect and don’t trample their pride. Let them say that their college days were the most unforgettable times in their lives for all the right reasons.

UPDATE: The year in the title has been changed from 1985 to 1990 after the writer clarified that she had earlier given a rough time frame and 1990 is when she went to college. 

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  1. Stanly Melferd

    It is understandable that you are undergoing a frustrating episode of christ university’s strict attendance policy. However here are a few things you should understand:

    1. The university doesnt get a sadistic pleasure from your discomfort.
    2. There are forums within the university that you can raise your opinion collectively with you Hod’s and teachers and the student council as well.
    3. un-avoidable circumstances could always and are always treated as special cases in the university if you have a genuine reason, and with the state BMTC bandh you can actually get a special permission if you approach the right people.

    Here is the reason why you should be careful before inking your thoughts on social media platforms like these.
    1. Note that you are studying in a campus which instills discipline and professionality to shape you for the future
    2. When you land a Job in an organization (because you get recruited due to the CHRIST UNIVERSITY Brand) no one will give you an off just because the bus is on strike
    3. Your attendance norms will be the same if you live just across the Office, or If you stay in Uganda. they simply wont care.
    4. Your targets will remain the same, your duties will remain the same and no matter what you are going through you have to show up.
    5. Remember that when there were floods in chennai people still had to commute in the initial days to their offices untill the offices were out of service themselves.
    6. Christ University is helping you toughen up for this kind of a life ahead.
    7. Offices are open in bangalore despite the bandh, do you think the employees write down “I Cant Fly” “You are Inconsiderate” on a social media platform?
    8. They will immediately get a mail from the office giving them a permanent holiday.
    9. Have gratitude for the alma mater that chose you over thousands of applicants to study in its campus, you are recieving the greatest wealth of your life here “Knowledge”.
    10. You Have an Issue , Go and talk to the management rather than waste your time on social media. Remember that all those who comment saying “Well Written” “You are right Bro” arent helping you but using you as their punching bag, they may have the same issue but they are cleverly using your shoulder to fire.
    11. Be careful, in what you do, write and say on any subject, matter , or person for you are generating an evidence for your own peril.

    1. Karthikeyan P

      Probably the University should be renamed from ‘Christ’ to ‘Communist’ University. I think their values and aspirations focus more toward the latter than the former. Regards,

    2. Arjun Krishna Lal

      Hi Stanley,

      Thanks for spreading misinformation.

      1.) Perhaps not all of them derive “sadistic pleasure.” But per year, attendance fines can be as high as 50 percent of tuition fees. Normalising for PPP, this would be like if an actual, reputed institution (you know, one like Princeton which is actually ranked in at least the top 500, and not deluding themselves of their worth–Christ ranks 4205), institutes fines upwards of $10,000 per year. As far as friends from abroad tell me, it’d be patently laughable to institute fines this high. Unless, of course, there’s a clear profit motive.

      2.) Which forum are you talking about? There are forums for grievance addressal in Christ? I thought the handbook explicitly forbids students from collectively engaging with management about grievances. There are no “forums” to address your grievances. The only “forum” is speaking about your issues in hushed whispers because of the atmosphere of fear.

      3.) Unavoidable circumstances are…treated as exceptional? Yeah I know people who’ve had to leave college after being unable to claim attendance while languishing in a hospital after a road accident they weren’t responsible for. I’m not even going to cite personal experiences. Most of the time the question asked is “why should we make an exception for you? No exceptions.”

      1.) (Please learn to count) I forgot, but since when were blindly following authority and rejecting individuality and innovations valid means of preparing individuals for professional careers? My father is an employer at one of the Big Four. He has this to say about the kind of education offered at Christ and how useful it actually is in professional circumstances:

      “We don’t need cookiecutter individuals whose competencies are knowing how to groom themselves and wearing a suit. We don’t need robots: expert systems and AI make the limited skillsets of these kind of candidates redundant. We need people who know how to innovate, who know how to think laterally, and are flexible and adaptable in a dynamic environment. A fact-based education and a management culture that discourages adaptability and out-of-the-box thinking is going to produce candidates that are unfit to join the workforce.”

      Christ “discipline” doesn’t teach people to become better professional. It teaches people to become better sheep.

      4.) Your targets will remain the same in a professional environment? Have you ever had a job in India? Or have you spent your entire professional career cooped up inside Christ? As far as my professional experience is concerned, having worked with leading publication in India and around the world, is that professional relationships are defined by mutual understanding and respect. If there’s a bandh and I’m not going to make it, I don’t have to go on social media to express my anguish. All I’d have to do is tell my manager that there is a strike. As far as employers I have spoken to, not a single one would be willing to compromise on staff safety and welfare in case of a strike. Either leave would be granted or a convoy would be arranged to ensure that staff get to and from work safely. Does Christ arrange for special busses to transport students on bandh days? No it doesn’t, so expecting students to come and then taking attendance is not only impractical, but also unethical, showing a callous lack of concern for student welfare. Which, of course, shows in every other policy as well.

      6.) From the above-mentioned it’s evident that Christ isn’t toughening students for anything apart from enduring their three years on campus.

      9.) Please, tell me why I should feel any amount of gratitude towards an institution that has categorically denied me respect, both as an individual, and as a student, and exploited me for it’s financial gain? As far as gratitude is concerned, Christ ought to be grateful to many of the people who applied, who’ve managed to enrich its progressive and intellectual temperament. I remember very well that, upon attending my interview in April 2013, one of selection staff members told me “we’d be happy to have you here, but the question is how much Christ has to offer for YOUR fulfillment.”

      10.) Do you think people haven’t tried reaching out to the managment? They’ve tried for years. Do you think the student council can or will do anything? Why should they when they’re not even elected, but appointed as seen fit by management? When students are prohibited from collectively addressing management on issues concerning all of them, what’s the point? The management’s refrain is “you knew this when you signed up.” If that’s the attitude, it defeats the very purpose of reaching out to them. The very real, regressive policies at Christ even made it on national TV, where they were highlighted alongside the Rio hockey team controversy

      This isn’t didn’t appear on a national platform because it happened to be slow news day. It’s because anyone in their right mind would be appalled at the kind of treatment meted out to students by Christ, and because it’s a social malaise that needs immediate correction.

      11.) Do you really want to escalate this further? There are ex Christites in prominent positions in the media, in professional spaces, and in administration who’ve expressed their disgust with the callous attitude of the institution and its sycophants. Of course, if you want to make vaguely threatening statements like that, know that the truth can and will come out. But you wouldn’t want that, would you? Be careful what you with for 🙂

  2. Beena Lal

    My son had to pay 5000rs first year and in final year 7000 for writing the exams because of lack of attendance. If attendance can be bought with money why make it a big deal about 85% etc etc.

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