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Readers’ Take | Protect students’ last safe refuge

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Ensure students are living in safe accommodations

The ‘video leak’ at Chandigarh University, Mohali, is a failure of the administration. An extensive investigation has revealed that an organised group was behind the incident. If such an incident could take place in an institute of repute, what of those students living in paying guest or rented accommodations. The owners of such private lodgings charge a hefty sum but rarely bother to ensure the safety of students. These lodgings should be registered with the administration, and officials should ensure their safety. Action should be taken against the owners of unauthorised accommodations. Parents, too, must stay connected with students and ensure they are living in a safe place.

Deepak Kumar, Panchkula

Constitute advisory, support panels

In the digital era, millennials cnetwork with each other virtually. While each innovation has its pros and cons, the life, liberty and safety of youngsters is of paramount importance. The incident at Chandigarh University has exposed the risks around us. Considering the magnitude of the damage caused, institutions must adapt themselves. Expert counselling and intervention sessions should be held and educational institutions should form advisory and support panels.

Shami Singh Bhatia, Zirakpur

Ban cameras in washrooms

Exposed to freedom for the first time after the restrictions of school, many a youngster may get misled. Educational institutions should take measures such as appointing a woman attendant to ensure electronic devices are not taken to the common washroom, the height of the walls should be increased to ensure privacy. Guidance should be provided to new students, for which qualified psychologists should be posted. Periodic group and individual counselling sessions should be held. This will go a long way to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in educational institutions.

Sqn Ldr Manjit Singh Johar (retd), Chandigarh

Sensitise students

The accused woman in the Chandigarh University video leak case was sending her videos directly to some men. There are innumerable cases where the perpetrator sometimes posts explicit photos of a woman on their social media handles, or personate the woman through fake social media account and solicit sex. This is not limited to just educational institutions, but is seen across India. Cops will agree that cases of revenge porn and extortion are on the rise. Thousands of youngsters from small cities, knowingly or unknowingly fall into this trap. Counselling and sensitising students about cyber crime may go a long way in reducing such cases.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Check students’ mobile phones

Chandigarh is the educational hub of north India. However, they often put themselves at risk due to indiscriminate use of social media. One one hand sending objectionable photographs and videos is a crime, and on the other hand it also ruins the student’s life. Perhaps, the administration should check students’ phones to ensure their safety and deter students from indulging in such practises.

Avinash Goyal, Chandigarh

Appoint counsellors at varsities

The shocking episode in Chandigarh University has shed light on the risk to students on the college campus. Students often feel secluded and distanced from their home environs. In the absence of a dedicated cell for addressing students’ grievances, the practice of ragging of new entrants further aggravates their anxiety and instills fear of reaching out to their peers. There is, thus, a dire need for university counsellors to guide students and help them cope up in a competitive and challenging environment.In order to emerge as safe havens for students, colleges must espouse interpersonal communication among student groups through alumni associations, senior students’ councils as well as extracurricular clubs. Hostel wardens must be sensitised to act as intermediaries between students and their parents.

Surbhi Negi, Zirakpur

Tighten noose around educational institutes

With the tricity emerging as an educational hub, it is the responsibility of authorities to look after their security and well-being. We must learn from the Chandigarh University ‘video leak’. Educational institutions need to understand that awarding degrees and landing placements to students is not their only responsibility. In fact, the safety and security of students should be their top priority. The government should tighten the noose around institutes flouting the safety and security of students, especially girls, with impunity. Regular audit of the security network on campuses need to be put in place to build a strong social support network. Stringent laws and the strictest punishment, including hefty penalty and even jail terms for those jumping the standard operating norms, would go a long way in checking such jaw-dropping misadventures. It’s now or never.

Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh

Wardens must take timely action

Educational institutions seem to be extorting money on pretext of education and hostel facilities without paying attention to the safety of students. Women boarders should be given safe personal rooms, common rooms and washrooms with complete doors and walls. CCTVs should be installed to monitor activities that breach the privacy of women students. Time to time vigilance of the rooms should be done to keep a tab on such shameful acts. Hostel wardens should be friendly and inspire the trust of hostellers so that they may confide in her. Timely action should be taken by the warden and institution if such acts are brought to their notice. Ignoring complaints can make matters worse.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali

Provide the right guidance

As a student, I was dismayed to hear what had happened at Chandigarh University. It is a matter of shame that students, instead of focusing on their career get involved in things than can easily ruin their lives, and that too because of peer pressure. Universities should hire a therapist and advise students to take an appointment whenever they are feeling low. This way students will have somebody to talk to, and the situation can be easily dealt with . Awareness sessions regarding pressing issues are the need of the hour. Parents and teachers should guide students, and provide them leadership or self-esteem lessons so that they may stand for themselves whenever the need arises.

Ishita Nara, Chandigarh

Ensure adequate washrooms

With a large number of students flocking to the tricity area, their safety and security should be our primary concern. Students’ privacy is not ensured in hostels and public places. There should be stringent laws against defaulters. Hostel warden must ensure the privacy of students by ensuring there are adequate bathrooms and toilets to ensure their privacy as per laid down norms of accommodation. CCTV cameras must be installed at vulnerable places in the university to deter trouble makers.

Col TBS Bedi (retd), Mohali

Monitor phones

The Chandigarh University ‘video leak’ has left the administration, and all colleges and universities concerned. They must collectively work towards plugging all loopholes. Hostellers, both men and women, expect safety. Parents, too, should make sure their wards are studying and not participating in questionable activities. They must not capture objectionable videos of boarders while they are sleeping or bathing. The use of smart phoneshould be monitored by wardens and principals.

Nishant Sharma, Mohali

Issue character certificates every semester

The Chandigarh University video leak incident was shocking and shows that character certificates should not be taken as a mere formality. Usually, character certificates are given once the degree is complete, but perhaps they should be issued after every semester. They should be duly verified by professors, hostel wardens, and parents. This will allow regular assessment and discipline on campus. Technical loop holes must be covered and certain restrictions should be imposed on students such as ban of use of personal electronic gadgets in sensitive areas such as classrooms, and washrooms.

Shubham Samria, Chandigarh

European influence to blame

Indian students and even their parents have been adopting European culture and fashion for a long time. But it is not suitable for Indian society. Mobiles and televisions have widened the chasm between parents, teachers and students.Teachers and parents should spare time for children and mix with them. They should listen to their problems, especially complaints of sexual harassment. Students, both boys and girls, should be encouraged to report sexual harassment without hesitation. Suggestions should be taken from experts, if they feel necessary. Sub-committees should be framed in each educational institute to resolve harassment cases. These committees should do their work under the surveillance of CCTV cameras.

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali

Ban video recording devices in hostels

All video recording devices should be banned in educational institutions, and only a simple phone should be allowed so that students may speak to their friends and family. Faculty members should also not be allowed to use personal phones in class. They should be allowed limited access and their phone should otherwise be in the custody of the administration. CCTV cameras should be carefully monitored. A health and sefety management team should be formed.

Sahdev Kashyap

Parents must inculcate good values in wards

Parents should teach their wards about the right way to use gadgets so that they do not ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them as was seen in the Chandigarh University episode. Educational institutions have the responsibility of ensuring the well-being of all students, and so they should not allow smart phones on campus. Prepare and educate them to handle the gadgets properly for the purpose it is meant for. Students should be taught to use their gadgets responsibly. Authorities and parents must connect with students and be available for them. Parents must not let students become emotionally dependent on smartphones.

Sargun Babuta

Do not be cavalier about safety

The unfortunate incident at Chandigarh University was not just caused due to irresponsible use of a mobile phone, but also due to the careless behaviour of university authorities. The privacy of students, especially girls staying in hostels, has to be fool proof. They only way to ensure the same is to restrict the use of mobile phones . These phones must be kept under strict custody with wardens. Old-school phones should be provided to students at hostels so that they may talk to parents and guardians. Student representatives and the welfare council should ensure all students’ issues are immediately addressed. The university administration must inspire the students’ confidence. The WiFi facility should be strictly monitored. Parents and university officials must meet regularly to tackle discipline issues .

Capt Amar Jeet,Kharar

Swanky campus is not enough, focus on security

The video leak case is a lesson for all universities. It is not just enough to have the best educational facilities, provide top placements and a swanky campus, they must also provide a safe environment to each and every student, whether a hosteller or a day scholar. Parents always choose reputed colleges or universities for their children hoping that their children will get best education along with a safe environment, so educational institutes must come through on the security aspect. A cyber cell should be created on campus to provide a friendly and safe environment to students. The government must also inspect varsities and colleges and rank them on parameters such as safety of students, quality education, environment of campus and hostel, and student verification.

Prabhjot Nagpal, Zirakpur

Hostel wardens must keep an eagle-eyed watch

These days educational institutions are only concerned about their fee and professors’ salaries. Hostel wardens should keep an eagle-eye on activities taking place in hostels. Security cameras should be fitted and monitored in required areas. Political activities should be limited in educational institutions.

Opinder kaur Sekhon, Chandigarh

Create safe environs

It is essential to provide a safe space to students where they can be safe from abuse and all kinds of abuse, violence, psycho-social issues, disasters, natural or man made. After all, safety plays a crucial role in youth’s development and success. Students who feel safe at the institution, are not likely to engage themselves in disruptive activities. It is undisputed responsibility of the educational institutions to ensure all round safety of students whose parents have sent them with the clear understanding that their wards will remain protected from all misadventures while at the institution. A special mechanism needs to be developed, comprising teachers, wardens, psychologist, counsellors and students leaders. They should hold regular meetings with students to discuss their problems and win their confidence and encourage them, to share all types of problems with them.It is also incumbent upon the parents to maintain dialogue with their wards and observe if there is any behavioural change. Law enforcing agencies must keep strict vigil in the vicinity of the educational institutions and ensure that there are no antisocial elements.

Kidar Nath Sharma, Chandigarh

Handle sensitive case responsibly

It is sad that Chandigarh University, which enjoys a stellar reputation and has so many international affiliations and has been conferred with many of national and international rankings is getting a bad name just because a student recorded an indecent video and sent it to one of her friends in Himachal Pradesh, thus creating a genuine fear in the minds of other students. The electronic media covering the incident displayed a lot of irresponsibility and aired unverified facts such as attempt to suicide by few girl students and recording of objectionable videos of 60 other girl students by that girl. None of it was factual as confirmed by the police later. The media also blamed the university management for hiding the facts in collusion with the authorities. The university in question is of high repute and is known for its trustworthiness and reputation, which is why it attracts so many students from different parts of the country and across the globe.The Punjab government has rightly appointed a three-member all women officers’ SIT to probe the incident.

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali

Media must act responsibly

What had happened at Chandigarh University was beyond one’s imagination. A girl student may share her own videos with someone, but it is unacceptable that she was sharing videos of other girl students. While the girl should be punished, the varsity authorities are also not blameless for their clumsy handling of the episode. When the university converted the boys’ hostel into a girls’ hostel, why they did not ensure their privacy? Were economic benefits their only consideration? When the incident was brought to the notice of the warden, why did she not take action against the accused, and try to suppress the incident? The university authorities awoke and came to their senses only when the whole episode had blown up like never before – a crowd of students had gathered, blocked the main highway and traffic, rumour mills were churning out new twists and turns including cases of suicide. Now, That the university has opened again, authorities must ensure that all gaps in their security system, and bathrooms are filled.

Suresh Verma, Chandigarh

Follow SOPs

The safety of students in educational institutions is of the utmost importance as reflected by the recent video leak incident at Chandigarh University. To ensure students’ safety, authorities must lay down some standard operating procedures . Strict action should be taken against students who exhibit indiscipline. Special security should be deployed and wardens should maintain a zero-tolerance policy. An entry and exit record should be maintained. Regulation is the key to securing hostels.

Saikrit Gulati, Chandigarh

Expert takes

Guardians must interact with wards:

It is the paramount duty of university authorities to provide a safe and secured environment to their residents. Counsellors and guardians should interact with them frequently and hear their grievances patiently. Helpline numbers should be reachable round the clock,

Parvinder Singh, vice-chancellor, Rayat Bahara University

Conduct periodic inspections:

A counselling cell should be formed and officials should be in continuous contact with students. Periodic inspections of premises should be conducted to check for suspicious activity.

Navdeep Goyal, former DSW, PU

Strengthen mentorship programme

Students should be sensitised about cyber crimes during orientation. Cyber cells should be opened and all information should be kept in such cells. The mentorship programme needs to be strengthened so that students can freely discuss their issues.

Ranjay Vardhan, head, department of sociology, Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 42

Increase police presence:

Universities should organise sensitisation workshops and talks by eminent persons to make students understand the consequences of their actions, whether right or wrong. The presence of law enforcement officials around campus should be increased around campus.

Manju Raina, a PU student from J&K

Foster good official-student relations

Officials concerned should foster a good relationship with students. They should be easy to approach so that students are encouraged to discuss their issues with them. Students should also be sensitised about their moral responsibilities.

Abdul Monir Kakar, a representative of Afghan students in Chandigarh

Reader of the week

Ensure adequate washrooms

With a large number of students flocking to the tricity area, their safety and security should be our primary concern. Students’ privacy is not ensured in hostels and public places. There should be stringent laws against defaulters. Hostel warden must ensure the privacy of students by ensuring there are adequate bathrooms and toilets to ensure their privacy as per laid down norms of accommodation. CCTV cameras must be installed at vulnerable places in the university to deter trouble makers.

Col TBS Bedi (retd), Mohali



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