University of Madras denies former State cricketer admission twice for a distance education course

At the age of 8, Preethi Srinivasan was the youngest girl to play in the State cricket team.

Today, she is fighting a battle with the University of Madras that has refused her admission to its M. Sc Counselling Psychology course through distance education, not once, but twice in recent years. The reason: she has a physical disability, and officials think which she would not be able to attend the mandatory 15 classes before the course begins.

The former cricketer, who captained the Tamil Nadu women’s under-19 team during its only victory in a national tournament in 1997, suffered a spinal cord injury in a beach accident in Puducherry that left her quadriplegic in 1998.

“I first applied for the psychology course in 2001. But they said they held contact classes on the third floor and there was no facility for disabled people to attend them. My father went to every official and begged them to take me but they refused.”

Preethi (33) tried getting enrolled in the psychology courses offered through correspondence in Bharathiar University and Annamalai University, but was not considered. She then took up a correspondence course in medical sociology in the University of Madras.

Recently, when she approached the university to enrol into the psychology course again, she had to face the same situation. “They did not even want to look into my achievements or consider the fact that I was a student here. Why should I not be allowed to study a course I have a passion for just because I am disabled and because they don’t have ramps?” she said.

“I told them I will attend all the contact classes because I am in better shape now, but they refused to oblige,” she said.

After Preethi’s father, an electrical engineer, died a few years ago, she lives with her mother in Tiruvannamalai.“I thought studying psychology would help me connect to students better,” said Preethi, who goes to schools and colleges to talk to students and teachers on the dangers of spinal cord injuries.

“I tell them about how they might never see it coming, but within a second, their life will be confined to a wheelchair. Many of these injuries are preventable if proper steps are taken,” she said.

University of Madras officials said they were looking into the matter, and that they would take steps to resolve the issue soon. “We are not aware that she had applied. We have a significant number of students with disability studying here, and we will surely take up the issue with utmost priority,” said an official.

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