Here Are 9 Extremely Absurd Things College Admin. Across India Have Said This Year

From Mulayam Singh Yadav’s “Boys will be boys,” to Satyapal Singh’s “Darwin’s theory is scientifically wrong,” to Azam Khan’s “Rape cases have increased due to misuse of mobile phones by the younger generation,” those in power have not been shy of spewing ignorant and absurd statements.

Like all years before this one, 2018 was no different. Here is a compilation of a few such comments and actions taken by authorities of various colleges in response to certain actions by their student bodies.

1. “These sort of things happen to North-Indian girls” – Hostel warden, SRM University, Chennai

After an incident of sexual harassment in late November this year, which shook the student community throughout the country, the warden of the hostel where the incident happened responded with the above statement to the students as they complained about the accused. Under the garb of typical victim blaming, the students were also told that it was because of their short clothes that incidents like the above happened.

It was not too late after these comments that the Vice-Chancellor of the University also made the news for blaming the students of “making an issue out of nothing,” as this video clearly shows.

2. The chief proctor slapped a student while she was engaged in a peaceful protest – Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University

Following days of discussions with the administration regarding their degree’s recognition by the Indian Nursing Council, the students of IMS staged a sit-in in response to the authorities’ silence on the issue. In this protest, the students, who were armed with nothing more than posters, were met with the acts of slapping and dragging by the chief proctor, Royana Singh, as can be seen in this video.

The student, who was slapped by Singh during the clashes between the two sides, also suffered damage to her left year. Singh denied the use of force by her and claimed that all that happened were just talks.

3. “Nahi hua toh nahi hua, us mein aisi kaun si aafat aa gayi?” – Vice Chancellor, HNLU, Raipur

After a range of allegations was put forth against the former VC of Hidayatullah National Law University, Dr Sukhpal Singh, he was cross-questioned by the student body of the institute in a general body meeting. During this meeting, one of the points put forward was the inability of the administration to upload necessary documents on the university website. The students alleged that they were held from making important academic decisions due to the lack of important information.

To this allegation, Dr. Singh responded with the above statement, as can be seen from the recording of the meeting, at the 26:50 mark and again at the 1:33:00 mark, as he asked the students of the “substantial loss” that they had incurred.

4. “…in baccho ko sponsor kiya jaa rha tha” – Chief Proctor, Banaras Hindu University

In 2017, BHU saw one of the most agitated protests in the history of Indian education. A sit-in and a march, which started against the university’s lack of regulations to counter the prevalence of sexual harassment on campus, soon turned into a widespread revolt which also included a pushback by the police forces of the region. After a year of the incident, in April, the chief proctor of the university, Royana Singh commented on the sponsored nature of the protest and accused the students of being supported by external financial sources.

In early May, the students of the institute protested against these remarks by Singh, accusing her of trivializing and maligning the protest by calling it sponsored. They also accused her of later lodging an attempt to murder case against the students.

5. “If the students can’t afford the college, they should drop out” – Director, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani

Following their plan of exponential development labelled as Vision 2020, BITS, Pilani, one of the prestigious engineering institutes of the country, adopted a constant 15% fee hike every year. In response to these soaring amounts, the student body of the three campuses of the university resorted to protests against the administration. The protests began in Pilani and soon spread out in Goa and Hyderabad as well.

During one of the addresses by the administration in Pilani, the director tried responding to the student body’s demands in a closed discussion inside the campus auditorium. He was later accused of saying the above statement while on stage during the gathering, which a lot of students later associated with a sense of pressure and confusion on the part of the director.

6. The alumni were denied any recommendation letters for criticizing the college they graduated from – Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad

After two students at Symbiosis Law School were expelled after they accused an assistant professor of the same institute of sexual harassment, the school was met with a series of complaints and objections by both, its students and its alumni. Although the administration denied the claim that the expulsion was because of the registered complaint, the alumni that came out against the authorities had a different story to tell.

In a report by the Quint, the students who had passed out of the college accused the administration of withholding their recommendation letters. The alumni alleged that the college was trying to make use of the inability of these students to come and collect the recommendation letters physically. As the above report shows, the director was accused of denying one of the students her respective LoRs, stating her lack of faith towards the college as a viable reason.

7. “You should be happy that at least some action was taken” – Ashoka University, Haryana

Following a complaint against one of the professors of Ashoka University in April of 2017, the committee against sexual harassment (CASH) of JNU found the accused to be guilty of “manipulated consent” and “the abuse of patriarchal power in the professional sphere”. After a delay of more than a year, the students of the institute claimed that there had been a gross miscarriage of justice in the entire procedure.

Alleging the administration of being insensitive and highly ignorant of the complexities of human interactions, the students and the alumni revealed in an open letter, that the administration conveyed the above remark to the survivor, thereby revealing the unbelievable nature of their stand on the issue.

8. “If you don’t attend classes, you won’t be allowed to sit for your exams” – Jadavpur University, Kolkata

With JNU’s actions on making a 75% attendance compulsory, various debates on mandatory attendance have taken the academia by storm. Among the universities which strongly advocate the policy of an obligatory presence, it is a common sight for professors and authorities to hold the students’ right to appear for exams as a means to force them to attend classes. Although, in an institute where there is no such policy in place, a threat like the above sounds absurd, at best.

That is exactly what students at Jadavpur University have come to face repeatedly. According to Debopam Gangopadhyay, a post-graduate student in philosophy, it is a regular sight for students to face threats on disqualification from exams by their professors if they would fail to attend classes. He says, “Although the campus has no strict policy for a minimum threshold in attendance, a lot of teachers continue to take things in their hands repeatedly.”

9. Filing a court case against its own students – Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

In February this year, students at TISS engaged in a series of protests against the administration opposing the rollback in the aid provided to students eligible under the GOI-PMS scheme. After about a month of peaceful protests outside the institute’s campus and an exchange of a series of notices between the student body and the authorities, the administration filed an injunction against 6 students.

The institute alleged that the students had entered the administrative building and caused a nuisance by participating in acts of vandalism. After their hearings, the court advised the TISS administration and the student body to engage in more talks and resolve the matter via dialogue.

As this list of incidents re-affirms, 2018 had its own share of absurd and childish responses that were employed by administrations across the educational spectrum. This is a faint sign of the incompetent nature of our powerful authorities in handling voices of dissent in an intellectual, if not a human, manner. Unfortunately, this trend does not seem to change even in the world of politics, outside the walls of these colleges.

Featured images for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Qamar Sabtain/India Today Group and Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
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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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