Say the security on campus is currently ‘lax and symbolic’

While hundreds of students of Mangalore University gathered on their campus on Monday in a show of solidarity with the family of the girl who was raped in a moving bus in Delhi recently, they expressed concern over the security provided for the women on campus.

Although the university has a cell for Sensitisation, Prevention And Redressal of Sexual Harassment (SPARSH), students alleged that it was ineffective at best. “It is dead. Most students do not know about it, and the cell has not done anything to spread awareness or to counsel students,” said Hilson D’souza, president of the Students’ Council.

The protestors demanded that the security on campus be augmented as it was “lax and only symbolic” now. “Though they have increased the number of security personnel, it seems like only the old and infirm are on duty. Even if there is an incident, it doesn’t seem like they can do much,” said Mr. D’souza. Considering that the campus was spread over 335 acres, the number of guards was not enough, he added.

Sunitha H.V., Cultural Secretary for the council and a student of sociology, said since a public road passed through the university grounds, moving about at night was not safe.

"There have been cases of autorickshaw drivers or others travelling through the university passing lewd comments at the students. The campus is dimly lit, because of which, research scholars and others who work till late do not feel safe here,” she said.

The students submitted a list of demands, including the appointment of counsellors to address issues of sexual harassment and stricter inquiry into the allegations of harassment against professors, to Vice-Chancellor T.C. Shivashankar Murthy and sought an immediate redress.

Addressing the students, the Vice-Chancellor said the university provided security to the “students in general, and girls in particular.”

While assuring them counsellors could be appointed from SPARSH itself, he said that the university views sexual harassment seriously.

“The cell has been active for one-and-a-half years, and counselling can be provided. If any of the faculty is found guilty of sexual harassment, we will definitely sack them,” he said.

Following the allegations by a Dalit activist against two professors from the Departments of Kannada and Sociology at the university for having allegedly harassed doctoral students, Mangalore University Vice-Chancellor T.C. Shivashankar Murthy said the accusations “had no substance.”

During the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes meeting on Sunday, activist Narayan Punchame had said: “Three years ago, a girl from Kasaragod discontinued her research, and in fear, did not even file a police complaint. Similarly, a woman who was pursuing Ph.D., under the Sociology department discontinued her research under pressure.”

However, Prof. Murthy told The Hindu the issue of harassment by the Kannada Department professor pertained to 1998, and the court had even dismissed the claim as infructuous. “The complaint against the Sociology department professor has not come to me, either filed by a student or by the activist,” he said.

Mr. Punchame had alleged that he had sent a complaint regarding this to the Vice-Chancellor 10 days ago, but was still awaiting a response.

Prof. Murthy clarified that the activist had filed an RTI application and not a complaint.

Students say security personnel are old and infirm

Dimly-lit campus makes moving about at night risky