The University Grants Commission’s safety guidelines for university campuses issued earlier this year which call for measures like higher boundary walls, barbed wire, police presence on the campus and biometric attendance, seems to be generating much furore. Even though the guidelines were issued in April this year, most central universities, including Delhi University and JNU are yet to implement them amid objections. A handful of central universities like the University of Hyderabad and the English and Foreign Language University, also in Hyderabad, which have brought implemented the strict rules in whole or part have also witnessed protests.
A section of the academia and the students feel that these guidelines infringe upon the individual liberties and privacy. For instance, the provision inviting police to patrol the campus at night has been questioned with claims that this gives the police a free pass to enter campuses. Those who object say while earlier the police was called in on specific instances, this guideline gives police presence on campus legitimacy and can lead to undue interference from them. Restricting entry points and CCTVs installed across the campus could also lead to excessive surveillance, they say.
The guidelines calling for regular parents-teachers meet so that grievances are addressed is also being questioned, considering it targets students in colleges/universities who are adults. Moreover, the provision that every teacher be allotted 25 students to act as their guardian and counsellor is being viewed negatively.
Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University has even initiated a Facebook protest against the “draconian” guidelines. On its part, the UGC brought in such guidelines to check rising offences and untoward incidents in campuses.