Guest Post by Sujata Chandra
The University Grants Commission has issued a set of ‘Guidelines on Safety of Students On and Off Campuses in Higher Educational Institutions‘ in April 2015, which is beginning to be discussed recently by students and faculty in many universities and higher educational institutions (HEI). They begin by discussing the height of walls and kind of barbed wire that are needed to ‘fence’ in higher educational institutions. But the most disturbing thing is the kind of walls and barbed wire they seek to install in the minds of students.
The ‘Guidelines’ feature a number of problematic provisions in the name of assuring a ‘safe and secure learning environment’ for students. These provisions, if implemented, will simply assert the state’s notion of morality and end up transforming students into submissive entities. The vision of ‘students’ in these guidelines is that of infantile beings who require ‘permission’ from authority figures (university administration, law enforcement officials and ‘parents’) at every stage of their life on and off campus.
One of the key provisions relates to the necessity of setting up police stations within university campuses. The presence of police forces within university campuses can only have a ‘chilling effect’ on student life, especially with regard to the quality of political activism and discussion. Universities are meant to be spaces of liberty and autonomy, and the presence of policemen on campus does not bode well for either. One can clearly envisage university authorities asking students to obtain ‘police permission’ to hold meetings, protests, screenings and simple gatherings. Ostensibly, the presence of a police station on campus is supposed to act as a deterrent to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Continue reading UGC Guidelines on the Safety and Security of Students in Higher Educational Institutions – Protecting Students or Building Walls ? Sujata Chandra