It cannot be easy being a student at IIT-Madras if one happens to be female. This is because the powers that be have ideas different from the rest of us about how female students are to lead their lives. The administrators have, for a start, mapped ‘unsafe’ zones on campus, and proposed that women should not move around after 11 pm without escorts. These escorts are to be mostly male student volunteers.
The obvious question that arises is, can’t escorts molest the woman they are supposed to protect? The administrators, in their wisdom, have taken this possibility into account. They insist on female students carrying whistles, to be blown in case of an emergency.
These bizarre rules have reportedly been put in place ‘to prevent possible sexual harassment’. The logical thing to do — which is simply make dangerous zones safer by tightening security around the campus perimeter — doesn’t seem to have cropped up.
Apparently, the administrators also intend to conduct street defence classes, install more CCTV cameras, put in place biometric access to some places and place restrictions on Internet access. In short, they want to get into Moral Policing Mode in a big way. The people in charge clearly see no problem with adopting a dictatorial attitude towards students, simply because they can.
Who decides what is morally acceptable anyway? Are yesterday’s standards the same as today’s? Are students so incapable of doing their own thing while on campus that their actions must be monitored to such an extent? What next — electronic tagging around ankles?
Indian Institute of Technology graduates are supposed to lead. If the organisation they are supposed to learn this from won’t let them manage their lives like independent adults, what message does that send to the rest of us?