Published: 18th October 2022
NIT Trichy students allege discriminatory hostel rules for girls; demand equal access to facilities
Students have alleged that the hostel timings, which require them to be back by 9.00 pm on weekdays, prevent them from working on projects, resulting in boys refusing to add girls to their teams
Choose between education or equality. This is allegedly what the Dean of Student Welfare at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Tiruchirapalli told students on October 12 in a meeting. These students were asking for equal access for both girls and boys to common campus facilities such as labs and libraries at night so they can work on their projects.
NIT Trichy, as it is popularly known, is one of the top 10 Engineering colleges in India, according to the National Institute Framework Rankings (NIRF 2022), at number eight. It is the only NIT to feature in the top 10. The students now point out that NIT Trichy is the only institute in the top 10 that has a 'curfew' for girl students. On weekdays, girls are expected to be back at their hostel, named Opal, by 9.00 pm for a compulsory roll call, whereas on weekends, they are required to be at the hostel by 9.30 pm.
This essentially means they cannot access libraries or laboratories or meet with their teammates to work on projects after that time. "This is causing boys in the college to avoid teaming up with girls because they are unable to work with after this 'curfew'," claims a student of the institute on the condition of anonymity.
An email that led to a meeting
These 'curfew' timings do not apply to boys. And this is what irked students enough to write several proposals to the administration over the last few years, demanding that the restrictions be lifted. Earlier this month, the student council of the institute submitted another proposal to the Director of the institute via email, raising these concerns. It was in response to this email that the Dean of Student Welfare met with student representatives on October 12, where, when they mentioned they wanted "equal access" to the facilities, he allegedly remarked that the students need to choose between education and equality.
Students, on Friday, October 14 stood in silent protest against the curfew and the stand taken by the institute in front of the administration block. There, they noticed that wardens and stewards from the Hostel Management Committee were noting their names down, claim the students. "They perhaps meant to confront us later," one of the protestors speculated.
The institute's Registrar approached the protesting students, and allegedly said that they will consider extending the 'curfew' timings by a couple of hours and also ply buses to take girl students to and from the hostel at night. "This is not the solution we want. The two-hour extension will not come without its list of procedures, and buses mean we will not have the flexibility of time," said another student.
"Free and equal access"
"What we are demanding is free and equal access to the common facilities. The administration claims that the campus is safe. There are enough security guards, and it spends more than 74 lakhs a month on security. If the campus really is safe, why are they enforcing these restrictions on the girl students?" asks another student. Moral policing, students claim, is something they face routinely, from the warden, the security guards and other members of the administration.
An alumnus of the institute, Mehul Jindal, who graduated with his BTech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering this year told EdexLive, "Last year they installed a barricade so that cows don't enter the campus. This was a high wall reinforced with barbed wire. It's a closed campus, so only one gate allows entry and exit. The campus is immune to anyone coming in from outside. What is the point of these rules for girls then?" he asks.
Fines on those who arrive late
The start of this semester in July ushered in another hurdle for the students. Fines were now to be imposed on those who arrive late to the hostel and miss the nightly roll call. First-time offenders will have to pay Rs 500, missing the roll call a second time will cost students Rs 1000, and if they err a third time, they will be suspended. This is according to the Rules and Regulations signboard put up in the Opal hostel, of which Edexlive has a picture.
Leaving the hostel beyond the stipulated hours, or for longer durations require filling out three sign-out forms and attaching a hard copy of an email from the student's parents, attesting to the fact that they know their ward is going out and for what purpose. The parents are then called before the student is allowed to leave to confirm the same. "When I asked the warden why these signatures were required she said, 'You guys go out and indulge in defaming activities, and that's why we will call your parents.'," claims a student.