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10 Stories From College Campuses In India You Shouldn’t Have Missed In 2016

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By Amrita Singh:

Campus spaces were in a plethora of news in 2016. Students from all over the country united and took stands on various issues, and some campus issues themselves became matters of national interest. Campus Watch emerged as a platform where people could highlight these issues, share their experiences, debate and even voice their dissent.

As 2016 comes to an end, we give you a recap of our best, most impactful stories of the year that struck a chord. They used a personal lens to capture a problem, national issue or even a sentiment. These reflected the spirit of Campus Watch – they shattered what was embedded, evoked what seemed dead and some stories even shook the system.

1. For Those Who Deny The Existence Of Caste

A Note For Those Who Think Caste Is No Longer An Issue In ‘This Generation’ (Think Again)
Institutionalized discrimination is a reality that we all know about but choose not to acknowledge.”

Penned by Students of Indian Law Institute, the article was written in light of the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula. It highlighted the general aversion of talking about caste based issues and the need for talking about the same.

2. Of Sedition Charges On University Students

“First They Came After The Muslims In Dadri, Now The Students In JNU”
Nobody who lives in JNU is a stranger to this, but it’s different this time. The students union president, Kanhaiya Kumar, has been arrested and charged with sedition. The hashtag #ShutDownJNU is trending online. People are calling us all “terrorist sympathisers.”

Shambhavi Saxena, then student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote about the aftermath of the much talked about February 9 incident and what that meant for our country.

3. How Many In The Media Got It All Wrong In JNU

YKA Exclusive: What Television Media Won’t Tell You About JNU

This is the story of JNU that you won’t see at prime time on Newshour.

A YKA exclusive, the story provided clarifications regarding what happened in JNU and what the University actually stands for.

4. Protest In Christ University

“We Cannot Be Ill-Treated”: Why Christ University Saw A Silent Protest By Students

To walk around college every day and know that everything around that place is wrong, and to realise that raising your voice is a far bigger crime is pretty much how most of us feel in college.”

Students of Christ University initiated a silent protest against the University’s stringent and conservative rules. Many students took to Campus Watch, YKA to express their frustration with the same and narrated negative as well as some positive experiences in the University.

5. Students In Calicut Medical College Smash Menstrual Taboos

4 Days, 100 Haiku Entries: How Calicut Medical College Students Smashed Menstrual Taboos
Every time I feel unsure of myself, I clutch the Haiku book close to my heart, and remind myself of all the difference that a single act of courage can make.”

Sreya Salim narrated how a micro tale competition started a major conversation on menstrual taboos in Calicut Medical College.

6. Being An International Student In Delhi University

In Photos: What Is Life Like For Foreign Students At Delhi University?
Overall, coming to a new place itself is just new and interesting, even if it’s going to be bad or good, it doesn’t matter because you’ll find out that life is just not about the place and country you were born and raised in.”

Some foreign students shared their experiences of what it is like to live in Delhi with Roshni Khatri.

7. Dress Code In Law Colleges?

#StudentSpeak: Is The Bar Council Right In Asking For A Dress Code At Law Colleges?

The Bar Council of India (BCI) had issued a circular asking all law schools to implement a dress code of white shirt and black trousers for all students. The final implementation was up to the colleges. The article has opinions of various students on the same.

8. A Message Of Hope From DU

As I Leave DU In Rage, A Message Of Hope I Want To Share With The New Batch

I want to leave with the hope that they wouldn’t succumb to the designs of the fascist scouts and that the student-teacher unity of my campus will continue to stand against all such attacks.”

An outgoing student, Kawalpreet Kaur, shared her observations and frustrations of studying in Delhi University for three years.

9. Fight Against Body Shaming

Body Shamed Throughout School, Lady Shri Ram College Taught Me How To Be Proud Of Myself

Today, when I look back into the first year of my college, I do not feel unattractive anymore. I still weigh the same, but I do not feel the same anymore.”

Shivanshi Khanna, a student of LSR, talked about how her college helped in making her body positive.

10. Difficulties In Life After College

The Fear Of Govt. Exams And Unemployment Gives Me Nightmares

Whenever I recall my unemployed days, I shiver in tension.”

Nafees Ahmad, a graduate of Deshbandhu College, talks about a difficult phase in his life when he was struggling to get through government jobs.

These narratives prove that so much has happened in Indian campuses in 2016 and there’s so much that needs to be done in 2017. Campuses are constantly evolving to be more liberal and inclusive. We at Campus Watch hope that this spirit grows and promise to bring forth more powerful stories in the coming year!

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Image source: M Zhazo/ The India Today Group/ Getty Images, Rohith Vemula/ Facebook
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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