The swift expulsion of three students allegedly caught smoking marijuana in their hostel rooms at Indian Institute of Management, Indore, this past week has led Delhi’s student and teaching fraternity to believe that the Institute acted in undue haste and failed in its moral duty towards the students.
“An educational institution is supposed to help students resist temptation and allow them to improve themselves. Instead, by expelling these students and ruining their careers, it has assumed the role of a judicial or criminal body. They have failed as an academic institution by coming down on them hard and washing their hands off any responsibility towards these students,” said Maya John, a resident at Delhi University’s hostel for women.
Many others said the swiftness of the expulsion was uncalled for. “These students were much older; the authorities should have made a proper inquiry into the level of abuse instead of indulging in such knee-jerk reaction. Some substances such as bhang are embedded in our culture and openly sold across the North on festivals,” said Vibha, a Ph.D. student at Jawaharlal Nehru University and former head of her hostel.
Her sentiments were echoed by fellow Ph.D. student Anaga who said no one approved of such moral policing and that expelling students did not solve the issue. “Of course, it’s illegal, but throwing them out is not going to help matters either,” she said.
Hindu College Principal Pradyum Kumar said he completely disapproved of any sort of drugs or alcohol, however mild, but he would have dealt with the issue differently. “We have a duty to guide and counsel and not criminalise these students. We have to save them while we can so that they are not completely lost. Expelling them and making them outcasts will only intensify their need to indulge in such acts,” he added.
However, some others felt that the issue is not that simple. “Once a habit, always a habit, you do something, get away with it and you continue doing it long after you leave college, all the while thinking you are never going to get into trouble for it. We need to prevent this,” said Tanvir Aeijab, who spent several years dealing with hot-blooded boys as a former warden at Ramjas College here.
‘A very thin line’
He said there was a very thin line between saving a student through counselling and invariably installing a sense of impunity in him. “There should be counselling, seminars and workshops regularly in colleges to prevent students from indulging in such activities from peer pressure or whatever, but repeated offenders should also be dealt with strictly,” he added.