Published: 22nd November 2019
IIT Madras to install suicide-prevention device on hostel fans, after fallout over Fathima's suicide
The administration has sent out a mail to hostels-in charge about the installation of the "Fan Bush Protection Device', which will make the fan drop if any weight over 40 kg is attached to it
The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has been in the spotlight for the last couple of weeks after the suicide of Fathima Latheef. After being heavily criticised for its response to the suicide and also its statement in the aftermath of the incident, the administration has been struggling to avoid criticism.
The latest is that the institute is believed to have taken a decision to attach a suicide prevention device to the ceiling fans in the hostel rooms.
The administration is believed to have sent out a mail to hostels-in charge about the installation of the 'Fan Bush Protection Device'. The device is expected to be fixed during the winter vacations, that started on November 23 and will last till December 20. The letter also states that if any student remains in the hostel during the winter vacations then they would be temporarily shifted to another room while the device gets fixed.
The Fan Bush Protection device is basically a sort of spring attached to a ceiling fan and if the fan feels a weight of above 40 kgs then it automatically falls down.
While the administration is taking this step to prevent further suicides on campus, the decision has not gone down well with students. Students took to social media to criticise the administration because they had chosen to install these devices instead of listening to what the students' demands were. These demands included a mechanism to check discrimination and harassment on campus, to ensure better mental health care and grievance cells. The other demands were in regard to Fathima's suicide — an internal probe into her death and those that she had accused in her letter.
One twitter user said - "When technology is used to prevent suicides, the problem only looks at not allowing fans as a method to commit suicide. The tech bros of IIT Madras don't understand there are probably a million ways to die if a student is being harassed." Another Twitter user said that this new decision was just a way for the institute to not pay heed to structural issues.
"What the IIT Madras administration came up with instead of listening to existing student demands: a device on all hostel fans so that they fall down if 40+kg weight is on them. Shameless!," another student wrote on social media.
The administration has, however, assured the students that their demands will be looked into. The Central Crime Branch is currently investigating the suicide and the professors mentioned in the suicide note are currently being investigated.