Male escorts & whistles for girls: IIT-M's new safety formula!
Male student 'escorts' for night saunter on campus and a whistle to hoot - that's what women students of IIT-Madras can expect now.
The IIT-M administrators, have identified 'unsafe' zones on campus and have proposed that women should not move around after 11pm without escorts, who will mostly be male student volunteers. And just in case the escort turns out to be a molester, for that the girl will be carrying a whistle which she has to blow in case of an emergency!
The proposals, which have come after a series of animated discussions between the faculty and the students since last month on their morality and safety, have triggered reactions that range from guffaws to frowns.
"'Unsafe zones' in the campus? Why is the administration letting them remain unsafe? Can't they have security personnel patrolling these places? Also, call me a pervert, but there's something sleazy about the term 'male escorts'. For a moment, I'd thought the IIT-M had gone bonkers!", said a PhD student.
It's not just a large section of students who are opposed to the idea - the faculty, too, are divided. In a closed communication of emails, some teachers said it amounted to treating students like kids. Replying to one such mail, a senior faculty member labelled those advocating greater freedom for students as 'liberal morons'.
IIT-M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi confirmed that all the proposals are under consideration to deal with the changing characteristics of the campus. "The student population has doubled in the last few years. We are discussing measures to prevent possible sexual harassment of women students. We are also planning to restrict the use of internet in hostels as students tend to remain awake all night and wake up late. We cannot copy western models," he said.
Women students have been advised not to go alone to these places: The road between Gajendra Circle and the Biotechnology block, Gajendra Circle to Sarayu Extension, 5th Cross Road, Lake View Road, Oat Road and Delhi Avenue.
A senior teacher, defending the new norms, said there were more proposals to protect students on campus. "The management will conduct street defence classes for students. We will also install more CCTV cameras and biometric access to some places to prevent theft, alcohol consumption and entry of outsiders in the hostels," he said.
Teachers who oppose the new proposals said the management should increase patrolling to address the security issues. "If the administration does not trust the sexual maturity and morality of students, it should hold open house discussions to thrash out issues. Leading international universities like Yale, Harvard and Brown organise similar programmes to ensure a healthy and democratic relationship among residential student communities," one of them said.