NIT leash on girl students

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New Delhi: A ladies’ hostel warden in the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, has cautioned girl students that they could be expelled from their hostels if found roaming with a boy on the campus, triggering allegations that the written warning was “regressive and discriminatory”.

The director of the central government-run institute, however, said there had been a “communication gap” and the notice – issued yesterday – would be “corrected”.

“There is some communication gap. The notice will be corrected,” Professor Sivaji Chakravorti told The Telegraph.

He also said he had learnt about the noticeon Wednesday.

The notice issued by S. Bhuvaneshwari, the warden, warned of “severe action” if girl students were found roaming with boys on the residential campus. “Inmates of Ladies Hostel and Mega Ladies hostel are strictly instructed not to roam with boy students inside residential campus. We get a lot of complaints in this regard. If any girl (is) found along with boy students inside the residential campus, severe action will be taken against her including suspension and expulsion from hostel,” the notice said.

Bhuvaneshwari, an assistant professor in the institute located in Kerala, couldn’t be reached for comment. A call to her mobile went unanswered.

Nearly 5,000 students, including around 1,000 girls, study in the institute. The girl students, who live in hostels located in the residential area meant for staff, are supposed to be back in their quarters by 7pm, according to hostel rules.

Professor G. Unnikrishnan, dean, students’ welfare, said: “The students move around in the residential area. It may not be appreciated by some people. Some contract labourers also come into the campus. That is why the warden would have issued the notice.” He did not explain who he meant by “some people”.

He said the early hostel timing for girls was aimed at ensuring their security.

Unnikrishnan also said he had spoken to the students about the notice. “They did not object to the notice. They say it is for their well being,” he told this paper.

The dean’s comments couldn’t be independently verified with any of the girls.

Lawyer Rebecca John said the notice was “regressive”, while penalising only the girls showed a “discriminatory” attitude on the part of the authorities. “A girl student may be with a boy for an academic conversation or for a walk. It is regressive to put any restriction.”

She also said an NIT, being an institute of national importance, was expected to be aware of gender justice. “An institute must facilitate healthy interaction and freedom for students to move on the campus, discuss and debate. It is a backward mindset to put restrictions on their movement,” John said.

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