Published: 08th September 2022
MNLU Aurangabad: Thanks to efforts of one student, girls now allowed out of hostel after 10 pm
The student boldly takes up the matter with the varsity administration and solves the problem for many girls, who were earlier locked up after 10 pm
“Equal laws but unequal implementation,” alleges a student of the Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU), Aurangabad, who wants to bring the issue they are facing to people’s notice. Ankita* states that as per the varsity’s regulations, no one is allowed to move out of their accommodations after 10 pm.
“However, while boys openly flout the rule, there is a severe restriction for girls, who are locked inside their buildings,” she claims. Ankita even tweeted about it recently to highlight the issue.
She informed that their Vice-Chancellor, KVS Sarma, was on a visit to the campus on Saturday, September 3, along with Supreme Court Justice AS Oka and Justices Sanjay Vijaykumar Gangapurwala and Ravindra Ghuge from the Bombay High Court. The students took up this restriction issue with the VC and he promised them a meeting.
Ankita alleged that after the VC’s visit, the girls are not being asked to go back inside if they are seen out. “But it is informal. There has been no formal rule made or communicated about it to us. We are just given a buffer time till 10:20 pm by which we still have to rush back to our accommodations,” Ankita says, as she implores for equality.
Ankita explains that there are two types of accommodations available on the campus – buildings and bungalows. The girls are locked in their buildings by 10 pm, while the girls who reside in the bungalows are asked to lock themselves in after that time, she says. Ankita, who resides in a bungalow, informs that since about 14 girls are accommodated in a single bungalow, the students need to go out for the purpose of privacy and studies.
“The problem has been going on ever since the varsity came into being in 2017. The first batch, which graduated this year, has taken up the issue several times with the management. They also held multiple meetings with the Vice-Chancellor,” she said. However, she adds that the issue was not considered seriously.
She says that in a previous meeting with the VC, he advocated that parents be involved in this matter. “He said that if the parents allow, then he can allow us to go out after 10 pm,” Ankita stated, recalling the VC’s words. But she was not happy with the proposal. “We are adults and we can make our own decisions. What if some parents allow and some don’t?” she questions.
Asked about the grounds on which the university restricts students, she says, “It is for safety and security purposes, the authorities say,” she informs and claims, “But we are not asking to go outside the campus. We should be able to utilise the campus and so are asking to be let out.” She also states that the restriction is a violation of the students’ right to choose.
Additionally, she says that as per the UGC norms, if any college provides a campus, it is a mandate that they should provide security. But here, this rule is being broken, she claims. “They are not providing security and asking us to stay locked in. This is illogical,” the student comments.
Recently, the authorities also asked them to submit an undertaking for going out, she alleged. “If we submit such a document, and in the absence of security, anything goes wrong, who will be responsible?” she questions again, and adds, “By asking us for this, the university is washing its hands of its duties of providing security.”
The student informs that earlier, the library, which is required to be open 24/7, is locked at 5 pm. Now after students raised the issue, the shutting down occurs at 10 pm. The case is similar for the reading area and moot-court room on the campus. They are mandated to remain open till midnight but are locked at 10 pm, which poses additional problems for the students.
What does the administration say?
EdexLive reached out to some of the faculty members of the university who helped shed some light on the matter. "The issue is personal. It is only one student who has expressed herself and tweeted about the hostel timing," says Mahenaz Haque, Assistant Professor of English at MNLU Aurangabad. She adds that the matter does not concern the student community and the other students have no problem with the rules.
"Had there been any concern, students would have come up to us about it. But so far, it is only one person who has expressed herself against the 10 pm deadline," she said. The professor emphasises that the deadline is imposed keeping everyone's safety in mind.
Ankita, however, disagrees. "The Joint Secretary, Treasurer and acting President of the student body, Nitin Karale, have supported me. The issue concerns all," she states.
The promised meeting of the VC and Ankita took place on September 7 at about 4.30 pm. As Ankita states, the VC did not meet the students but asked them to converse with their hostel wardens. After it concluded at about 6 pm, the students obtained some relief. The wardens allowed them to move out of their accommodation at all hours. However, it only applies to the girls who reside in bungalows. The girls in the buildings still have to adhere to the 10 pm deadline.
"The wardens informed that it was not possible for them to allow all the students out at the same time for safety and security purposes," Ankita says. She adds that the girls in the buildings are mostly fifth-year seniors who would be graduating in a few months. "All in all, my concerns have been addressed," she says.
The student adds that the wardens asked them to deal with the timing issue they face regarding the library and moot court hall separately. "We were told to reach out to the authorities in charge of these spaces and discuss the matter," she said.