Strict dress codes, beard bans, heavy fines: Here's why Bengaluru's Christ University stud
Strict dress codes, beard bans, heavy fines: Here's why Bengaluru's Christ University students are protesting on campus
On July 29, 250 students at the Bannerghatta Road campus of Christ University, Bengaluru staged a silent protest at the quadrangle inside the campus. The issues of discontent were things that students had been facing for a while, stringent 85% attendance requirement and strict dress code, which include a ban on growing a beard, or rolling up shirt sleeves for instance.
The problems at the university initially came to light as many students started to anonymously share their accounts about the University's autocratic rules and regulations.
The new campus in Bannerghatta Road University is an extension of the main campus on Hosur Road, also known as School of Business Studies and Social Sciences. According to an anonymous report by a student, "An uncomfortable vibe of superiority always existed where the students of social sciences were forced to follow rules that were exclusive to the business studies students. And no one dared to retaliate."
Another student who spoke about the issue said in an anonymous blog post, "As this campus contains a majority of business studies students and staff and is headed by a professor who used to belong to the business studies department in the main campus, we social sciences students are being subjected to their norms and regulations, which we didn't sign up for. We were told there would only be a shift in campuses. We weren't informed that humanities students would be treated like business studies students."
Reason for so much anonymity?
The student openly writes in the blog, "Anonymity is the only tool we have now, as students who have exposed their identity while raising their voices have been punished unreasonably." This just goes to show the unwarranted fear the students have been living in because of the strict rules.
What triggered the protest?
A blog post by a student titled 'Dear Christ University, I cannot fly.' detailing the woes of local student was facing during strikes spread like wildfire on social media. "On Tuesday, or rather today, I had six hours of class which I had to happily bunk. I couldn't possibly ask my Dad to sacrifice another meeting. With auto drivers quoting outlandish prices which I can't possibly afford with my allowance and buses off the roads and my much dreaded horrible inability to fly, how was I to visit your fine campus on this very fine day?" -- thus goes a quote by a second-year BSc student named Sumedha Biswas in her personal blog.
The same week a bus strike declared by BMTC and KSRTC drivers demanding salary hike, crippled the entire city. This complicated things for many student's who had to travel from far off places, all because of the strict attendance rules. Sumedha listed four major issues in her blog, the main one being the university's harsh attendance requirements.
Teacher who stood by students, abruptly fired
An assistant professor in Economics who lost his job for speaking up against the university's "unbending" rules. In a blog post by The Anonymous Reporter wrote, "The catalyst to the events that ensued later was the situation that happened with an Economics Professor in the Bannerghatta campus. This teacher felt deeply about the problems students are facing besides the difficulties during strikes, and raised his voice against the system and asked questions. As a result he was called to meet the management at the Main campus on Hosur road. He was unceremoniously asked to leave and was not even allowed to meet his students one last time as he was being whisked away by security."
The Bangalore Mirror quoted the distraught professor as saying, "This is supreme injustice. If they did not want to give me the space to voice the concerns of my students, then why did they even make me the class teacher."
Earlier, he was also admonished by faculty members for sharing a students blog post on the faculty's Whatsapp group. Students were furious after the professor who stood up for them was fired for no rhyme or reason.
What transpired at the protest on Friday?
According to a blog post tilted 'The story of a united student body' a student details the chain of incidents that took place anoymously.
After the news of the professor being sacked spread among the students, all of them unanimously gathered to stage a protest. "All students in consensus decided to wear black the next day as an expression of solidarity, and protest against the disparity in the system between the main campus and here." the student writes.
"Close to 250 students assembled in the quadrangle wearing black the next day. The silent protest started at 12:40 PM and went on till the end of the lunch break at 1:30 PM. 10 minutes into the protest, admin managers, security guards and other staff tried in vain to disperse the crowd and within a couple of minutes the Associate Dean, Dr Jyothi Kumar also tried to help the staff to disperse the crowd but in vain again. A few students' ID cards were confiscated without any reasons given and the mob was being videographed by an admin staff."
Some of the ridiculously stern rules and regulations of the University:
1. The dress code: No Lycra Leggings, Dupatta (Scraf) Mandatory. Many times security even frisk students to check the material. The college imposes a ban on growing a beard, or rolling up shirt sleeves.
2. Strict 85% attendance requirement to appear for an exam. Even if there is a strike, the university conducts classes. For students withing 3km of the campus attendance if compulsory. Late comers will b allowed to enter, but not given attendance.
3. Students cannot organise meetings in the campus without the Vice Chancellor's permission.
4. Student's council not elected by students, which is undemocratic.
5. They fine students for lack of attendance and the university has accumulated in lakhs with just fines.