IIT Roorkee on Wednesday announced a lift on the girls’ hostel curfew, in a progressive response to long-standing student demands. This decision brings the girl’s hostel rules at par with those for boys.
“The students have been demanding this for long and we have decided to do away with the restrictions. Like boys, girls can also step out of their hostels and roam around the campus round the clock,” IIT Roorkee Director AK Chaturvedi said.
“The entry of boys and girls in the common rooms of the hostels and vice-versa has also been allowed earlier this month. However, we have deputed two patrolling vans using which security personnel roam around the campus during night hours to ensure there is no untoward incident.
“Girls can also call these vans like they can call any PCR in the case of an emergency,” he added.
Chaturvedi has also promised that when exams are around the corner, the college library will be open at night so that students’ study schedules are not hindered. He said, “The library will now be open 24X7 a week before the examination and during the entire duration of exams.”
The Unique Security Challenge Faced by IIT Roorkee
Roorkee, being volatile by virtue of its inherent communal diversity, provides a challenge while securing the campus from various threats. The vicinal areas are purported to have a high crime rate. The campus of Roorkee, during the day, acts as a connecting link between parts of the town.
Being aware of threats posed by such situations, the institute took it upon itself to enforce certain restrictions. These inevitably curb a student’s freedom of movement. The justifiability of such restrictions has always been arguable, with each side having its own merits and demerits.
Students Demanded Freedom of Movement
The Justice Verma Committee, which was formed by the central government in wake of the 2012 Delhi gang rape, unequivocally stated that locking women up is not the solution to the security of women and that it is the prerogative of universities to provide for the security that enables women to exercise as much freedom as is guaranteed by the constitution.
Last year, the Students’ Affairs Council at IIT Roorkee worked towards pushing a proposal for improving security in the campus. They emphasised the timing restrictions, building on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee.
One can’t help acknowledge the gravity of the obstacles to absolute security on campus. However, locking up adults well into their 20s seems rather short-sighted, as far as solutions go.
After grappling with the administration’s nonchalance on the issue of the 11 PM curfew on girls, the student body finally resorted to a peaceful protest against the rule. One night, last October, students defied the deadline and gathered at the gates of Kasturba Bhawan. They were equipped with candles and banners and started the march at 11 PM.
Surprisingly, The Institute Responded!
The Dean of Student Welfare, Prof. DK Nauriyal, ultimately agreed to address the students gathered, saying, “We are not indifferent to your problems. We need to look after the security of you students, especially girls.”
He focused on the porous nature of the campus, adding, “People [from outside] go to the Central Building Research Institute, moving through the campus. You have the National Institute of Hydrology here. You have many spots like servant’s quarters and all that. All kinds of people come here.”
He added that they agree with the views of the students, in principle. But, their only concern was security which they must ensure.
And now, women on campus finally have the freedom they had been struggling to achieve. All thanks to the understanding and progressive attitude shown by the IIT Roorkee administration.
I think it’s safe to say that students will now not only exercise their freedom of movement but also exercise practical caution for their personal safety and reap the security benefits of the patrolling vans stationed inside the campus. Considering the volatile nature of the campus, it is only sensible to watch your back.
This decision comes at a crucial time. Recently, female students from various universities across the country have been alleging discrimination in the hostel curfew timings and other regulations as against those for the boys.
Is it too much to hope that their demands will be met as they were for the women of IIT Roorkee? We’ll have to wait to find out.
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