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A student suicides in VIT Vellore: why we must urgently stem the deep institutional rot

By LMH*

A second year mechanical engineering student of VIT University, Vellore branch was found dead at his hostel room on Thursday. Nallam Sathya Basker Santhosh, son of N V Rama Rao, was a native of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand state.

“He might have committed suicide as he was disheartened after obtained low marks in semester exams,” said the police privy to the investigation.

Nallam Sathya Basker Santhosh

Last year also a second year student committed suicide here. College owners tried to suppress this news and they were successful at it. They are trying to do the same now as it their main season of business, that is counselling is about to start, and I am trying to make sure this won’t happen again. But it seems that they are going to be successful, because there’s not much news about it. Of course, VIT is not Hyderabad University and Santosh is no Rohith Vemula. That’s why Media can’t make a buzz out of it. Also I know nothing about his caste or religion. For those of you who don’t know much about VIT and is busy criticizing government and neglecting everything else, let me give you a brief introduction of VIT.

VIT certainly is not one of the prestigious college, but its one of the top notch engineering college in India. With every year thousands of students take admission here, it has become a business, just like any other private colleges in India. The brand value of VIT has increased after MHRD listed it as best private college for engineering. There are every type of guy or girl in VIT. You will find people from every state speaking native languages, every economical class, every religion and caste. So it like India. And same cam be said about its rules, heavily gender biased and too much suppressive.

Gender discrimination has been a common issue raised in universities across India. Some students have complained that VIT University has much more restrictive hostel rules for female students compared to their male counterparts and regard this as evidence of gender discrimination in VIT. University officials, however, maintain that stricter female hostel rules are a necessary safety precaution given the rise in crimes against women.

In October 2013, two female students were suspended after they helped to organize an online opinion survey of female VIT students, focusing on issues of safety and inequality. Dr. Theodore Moallem, a VIT professor who supported the students and filed a public petition in their defence, was simultaneously fired.

Less than 10% of the students living in VIT’s female hostel took part in the survey, only after knowing that their identity would not be revealed. Of those who did participate, roughly 84% of respondents indicated that they were dissuaded “from speaking out publicly against VIT’s management decisions” by “fear of expulsion, suspension or other academic devastation”. Commenting on the issue, VIT University vice president Sekar Viswanathan said: “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”.

Guess what, we have our own Romeo Squad in VIT and they are college ad ‘Red Tags’. Back in 2011-2012, there were no rules like PDA and they have an in-time of 9:30 (11:30 on Saturdays) and girls had an time of (8:30). But after some incidences of couples getting “caught”, which according to them is crossing way more than limits in front of faculty, VIT enforced restrictions. And you can be caught for obscenity by police anywhere outside the college also.

The worst part is the staff (including faculties, not all but most of them). They have no respect for students whatsoever. They are very rude and arrogant. They will treat you like dogs. Their behaviour is worse than government officials.

Do anything and you’ll be expelled or suspended. Just like rules against sedation in India. So we can’t even raise our voice against these rules, against Gender Discrimination, and against mismanagement, and for Sathya Basker Santhosh, who committed suicide yesterday.

Today we are all busy protesting against government but to really bring any changes we have to start from root levels, from schools and from universities, where unnecessary and heavily gender biased rules are still being followed, because root is the most important part of a tree. A tree can survive without leaves, branches and stem, but it can’t, without its root. Extirpate this root and the tree is dead.

 

*a student who wants to remain anonymous

Post originally appeared on http://www.indiaresists.com/

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The student committing suicide in private institution indicates plight of students in private institutes. Government should take over the education sector in the interest of poor students

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