In a bid to silence criticism of its rules, the VIT University, Vellore, has sent home two women students after they posted Facebook comments questioning rules imposed on girl students alone. 

One of the two students posted on Facebook the details of a conversation she had with a university official about extending the time by which women should be back on the campus. As of now, women students can go out of the campus only once a week and have to be back in the hostel by 8 p.m. They also need to show officials a fax from their parents giving their consent to their outing. The rules are more flexible for male students, who do not need parental approval and come back late.  The student said her effort to negotiate with the university official was futile and her arguments were ridiculed. Following the conversation, she and a few students initiated an online survey to help the students register their dissent. One of her friends shared her posts too. Students say this led university officials to summon her parents and send them back home. 

“They were also forced to remove the posts,” said another student. Students said the online survey was an eye-opener with many respondents stating that the discrimination was unfair and the curfew deprived them of many opportunities.  “You can either go for a GRE/ MBA class or volunteer with an NGO, not both, because you can go out only once a week,” said a student. University officials, however, said the two students had been sent home “only to be away from the commotion,” and can return in a few days. “The students started a campaign based on the misplaced notion that the university discriminates against women, which is not true. They were taken home by their parents,” said Sekar Viswanathan, vice president, VIT University. 

The university, he said, gave equal opportunities to male and female students when it came to access to facilities, scholarships and employment. “The difference in time is only to make sure our female students are safe, especially at times when crimes against women are on rise,” he added. Meanwhile, father of one of the students said the university was not at fault, and that they had brought back their daughter, as “she had a misconceived idea that the university was discriminating against women.”