|‘Most college administrations have no idea as to what the cell is supposed to do.’|
|MAMTA SEN Mumbai | 28th Sep 2013, sunday guardian|
College students demonstrate against rapes in Mumbai. PTI
The mandatory women grievance cells in most Mumbai colleges are lying defunct. A University Grants Commission‘s (UGC) directive makes it compulsory for all educational campuses to have active women grievance cells.
Shiv Sena leader and a UGC committee member Neelam Gorhe said that most of the cells are defunct because of lack of management. “They should have good infrastructure. Simply having two-three women teachers as representatives on board is not going to solve the issue. Every cell should have a team of people who have facilities such as registering online and tacking online complaint, a proper monitoring system in form of CCTV cameras on campus that should be linked online. We have come across instances where the police have to seek the permission of the University before embarking upon an investigation by the complainant,” she said.
Gorhe said that he had invited principals of all Pune colleges to discuss the issue of women’s safety on campus, but only 40% of them turned up. “The rest sent women teachers as their representatives. Some of them even complained as to why they were being called, as they have no connection with the issue,” he said.
Several principals and deans of reputed colleges in Mumbai said that the women grievance cell at their respective colleges did not receive a single complaint. Vishwanath Sabale, dean of Sir J.J. School of Art, said, “Since we have limited students in our college we do not face any issues of complaints. We take the necessary precautions that we don’t ever reach to such a state where a women student has to complain.”
Nirja Mattoo of S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research located on the campus of Bhavan’s college in Andheri said that since her college did not come under Mumbai University, they did not have a cell. “Most colleges have such cells only on paper and are non-functional simply because the college management has no idea of what the cell is supposed to do. I was invited to a meeting of such a cell at the Father Agnel College in Bandra. I found that most cells do not know how to tackle the complaints they receive from girl students. Most cells do not even have minutes of their meetings and are unaware of the legal aspects of the complaints involved,” Mattoo said.
Mrudul Nile, director of Department of Students Welfare, Mumbai University denied that the women’s cells are defunct. “It is under the statute laws that every campus should have a women grievance cell and as per our knowledge such cells are active. The Mumbai University had also issued a circular to that effect. Most complaints are immediately taken note of.”
The UGC had planned that the women grievance cells will address the issues faced by girl students, women faculty and staff employed on campus. Maharashtra governor K. Sankarnarayanan, who is the also the Chancellor of all Universities in the state, has in the past directed all colleges to have a functional women grievance cell, but most colleges have simply ignored it.