- NL Sena
Many girls were in tears, cancelling their admission as there were no hostel rooms for them.
Disclaimer: Fearing retaliation, the author has requested anonymity.
On June 27, Pondicherry University was ranked sixth among the top universities in the country in the India Today – Nielsen Survey. It was also the first day for admission to postgraduate courses in the university. If you are wondering what connection these two things have, the women who thronged the admission rooms of the varsity can explain. The pathetic admission procedure and the gender discrimination in hostels, where the girl students don’t have rooms at all, will definitely make you wonder how this university bagged a high position?!
A few days before admission, a course-wise list of hostel vacancies for first-year students was published on the university website where girl students were given a maximum of seven vacancies while boys got vacancies as high as 35. The highest ratio of boys to girls is 7:1 and lowest is 4:1.
On the first day of admission, students were allotted hostel rooms only on the basis of these vacancies. Despite having only two vacancies in hostel, 21 girls enrolled in the Sociology department. It was even worse in the English department as there were only six vacant rooms when the number of girls who took admission went up to 72. In History, out of 24, only three girls got hostel rooms. The case was no different in the other departments as a large number of students left in tears, cancelling their admissions, their dreams of attending a ‘prestigious university’ shattered because of unavailability of rooms. However, the administration has asked to those who haven’t yet cancelled their admission to come on July 11 and promised to ‘find a way’ by then. It is unclear what that might be.
As the same situation continued on the second day, students and parents became enraged and started protesting. In order to calm the situation, authorities allotted dormitories for girls students. Apart from enrolling in these dormitories, students were also asked to sign an undertaking which stated that they would not demand anything else or that they risked expulsion–a horrific bullying tactic.
Besides, the eight instruction in the undertaking, stated “students and parents undertake not to create any problem after getting accommodation in dormitory”- is specifically worded to avoid protests which occurred last year when the female students raised their voice against the unbearable conditions of the dormitories. As a result, the university registrar, M Ramachandran, was forced to address students along with two chief wardens and had promised the immediate completion of a new hostel, which has yet to occur. The undertaking also states that students who receive transit hostels should not ask for transport facilities to their mess which is two kilometres away from the hostel.
Despite having very few hostel admissions, the procedure went on till 9 pm. This inefficiency and ineffectiveness of administration and hostel staff forced senior students to take the matter into their hands and finish the procedure.
This gender issue in hostel accommodation is an outcome of a larger problem- authorities’ prolonged discrimination towards the construction of new girls hostels. While there are 14 hostels for boys, there are only seven for girls which usually results in four students sharing a space meant for two.
It is even more horrible that the administration has come up with a new undertaking on Friday which has to be filled and signed by the students and parents that they undertake to make their own stay during the period of study and they will not claim admission into the hostel at any point of time!
This has been the situation at Pondicherry University for years. But, things have now reached a boiling point as the university has increased its intake and number of girls seeking admission has been increased accordingly. The administration should have foreseen this looming problem and taken necessary actions before increasing the intake.
At a time when the Central government provides a number of scholarships and programmes to promote girls’ education, Pondicherry University is doing almost exactly opposite of that.