Bengaluru

Why do students feel unsafe in college campuses after sunset?

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Inadequate security compels colleges to impose restrictions on movement after 5 p.m., but students argue that it’s their work that suffers.

At Bangalore University's over one thousand acre Jnanabharathi campus, there is an unwritten rule: don’t hang out in the area after 5 p.m. The scenario is repeated in several colleges, which maintain such ‘restrictions in the interest of students’.

However, students point to the lack of adequate infrastructure, such as street lights and CCTV cameras. Inadequate security also compels colleges to impose such restrictions, but students argue that in the end, it’s their work that suffers.

Renuka B., a second year student, says, “Sometimes, I want to go to the library or stay back in the department to complete my work. But I don’t if I don't have friends accompanying me.”

Another second-year student majoring in history has ‘mastered the art of walking briskly at certain spots on the campus’ that are not adequately lit. “Motorists have free access to the Jnanabharathi campus. They use this route as a shortcut. Harassment of women is so common that we have become immune,” she says.

A PhD student of the Indian Institute of Science says, “Sometimes I walk back from the lab to my room at 2 a.m. Although our campus is relatively safe, I would feel more secure if there were more street lights.” She also feels there is a need for more rigorous checking at entry points and that multiple exit points pose a security risk.

It’s not unusual for motorists to offer to drop a female student or follow her to see where she’s headed. As a result of this, hostel inmates do not venture out of the campus after sunset.

In June, students of National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) had staged a protest demanding better street lights in the vicinity of their campus.

But since the question of safety is yet to be addressed in most campuses, students have adopted their own safeguards, such as walking in groups, being alert at all times, pretending to talk on the phone while navigating a deserted stretch.

More patrolling and better street lights will help

With several colleges having vast campuses, experts suggest increasing police patrolling after 5 p.m. and adequate lighting.

K.N. Ningegowda, Registrar (Administration), Bangalore University said that the campus has 14 CCTV cameras. “If there is a need for more street lights or cameras, we will do the needful. Safety of female students is our priority and we are committed to ensuring that students feel safe on our campus,” he said.

Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, said that private colleges are comparatively better off in security aspects and there is a need to improve facilities in government-run varsities and colleges. Some colleges lack permanent wardens and students find there is no one to address their grievances. She recommends surprise inspections by syndicate members of universities of security measures on their campuses.

Expert Speak

“Students have complained of a lack of transport facilities. The library and hostels are located far away from each other, making them difficult to access at night,” says Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women.

Student speak

Although there are several instances of women being harassed, such cases are not reported. There is a need for workshops and sensitisation programmes to encourage women to report harassment

— Shruthi Nelamakanahalli, Bengaluru district joint secretary, Students’ Federation of India

There is a need for adequate security personnel on campuses. There are not enough street lights. The sexual harassment committee needs wider publicity so that such cases are reported

— Aishwarya C.M., State executive member, All India Democratic Students' Organisation

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 9:05:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/Why-do-students-feel-unsafe-in-college-campuses-after-sunset/article14628842.ece

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