Jawaharlal Nehru University, long cherished for its progressive, free and democratic spaces where “gender” is only invoked for “evolved”debates, is all set for a major overhaul.
If all goes per plan, any form of socialising after 11 p.m. will soon be a thing of the past. Any boy found present in another boy’s hostel room after 11 p.m. will be liable to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000. If a boy happens to be found in another boy’s room, who is not there at that moment, he will be fined Rs. 4,000. And if a girl is found in a boy’s room after 11 p.m., then the fine is upped to Rs. 5,000. Regular checking by hostel wardens will ensure that offenders are caught and fined.
“At the inter-hall association meeting on February 3, where the hostel presidents and the students’ union members were present, the Dean of Students put forth this new ‘rule’. There was a big hue and cry and the meeting was adjourned to next Monday,” said JNU Students’ Union president Akbar Chawdhary, adding that the union would not allow these rules, which was a blatant form of “moral policing”, and start an agitation from Monday.
“This is nothing new; these rules have been in existence for the past 40 years. Do they even know the administration rules that have been governing the hostel for 40 years?” responded Dean of Students Abdul Nafay when contacted by The Hindu.
Akbar said several other fines have been passed and some are still in the proposal stage by the Dean, whose designation was changed from Dean Students’ Welfare to Dean of Students at the request of students.
“One rule that has been enforced is a fine of Rs. 4,000 if a person is found to disrupt the ‘peace and harmony’ of the hostel. If the authorities are seeking to curb rowdy elements and mischief makers, then we do not have a problem. But again ‘peace and harmony’ has not been defined. You could do anything that is found offensive by the warden and be fined. Some girls in a hostel were fined the other day for leaving their slippers outside their room doors,” he said.
One fine is with regard to food. “If a person gets food from his hostel mess on his plate and eats in his room, then the fine is Rs.500. Sometimes if I am stuck in the lab or library and I cannot get to the mess in time for dinner or lunch I might ask my friend to save some for me. But, henceforth it will not be possible.”
Another rule which has perturbed the students is that if the mess bills are not paid in time, a late fine of Rs.10 will be charged for every day that the bill is not paid. “The university sometimes delays the scholarship payments by almost two moths at a time, and it is seeking to punish the students for their tardiness” said Akbar.
Meanwhile, students are extremely agitated. “We have fought for these spaces and this systematic attempt at moral policing should stop immediately,” said Anubhuti Agnes, a student of the School of Social Sciences.