Boy talks to girl in college, both are fined
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Boy talks to girl in college, both are fined
Thursday March 18 2004 10:40 IST
CHENNAI: What can happen when a boy and girl are ‘caught’ talking to each other in college? Try this: They are fined, suspended or made to stand in the sun for two or three hours. They may also lose attendance points and their pictures are put up on the notice board for all to see.
And all of these often happen in some co-educational centres of learning such as the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, and other Jeppiar institutions such as St. Joseph’s College, Panimalar College, St. Mary’s College and some other engineering colleges like RMK Engineering College and Madha Engineering College. Boys and girls in these places are not allowed to speak to each other and are punished even if they converse on academic subjects or are constrained to borrow anything from one another.
In Sathyabama Institute, they sit separately in classrooms and labs. The boys have male lab attendants, the girls have female attendants. There are ‘attenders’ (read spies) to make sure the young people are not breaking rules. They are punished even if found together outside the campus.
Karthika (name changed) of Sathyabama Institute describes how absurd the policing can get: ‘‘Once my friend was pulled up for asking the boy next to her about a computer program. Both their parents were called.’’ She found it outrageous that the authorities should bother about such trivialities when there aren’t any campus interviews at the institute.
Preethi (name changed) of RMK College of Engineering had an even more bizzare story: ‘‘Two of my classmates are twins, a girl and a boy. They were suspended for a week for speaking to each other.’’
Sudheesh (name changed) of Sathyabama Institute sounds worried: ‘‘This will affect us when we go out into the professional world. We won’t be able to communicate with our women colleagues.’’
Mercifully, as Smitha (name changed) of Madha Engineering College says, rules are not always kept. ‘‘In spite of the rules, we speak to the boys. As long as we are careful and don’t get caught, it is all right.’’
What do the colleges have to say? Chairman of Jeppiar Educational Trust, Jeppiar, denies there are any such rules: ‘‘Some families give instructions to their children and the children themselves may follow it. We have not punished anyone for talking to each other. In fact, at seminars and symposiums they do talk to each other.’’
But he goes on to say that the day scholars are not allowed to mingle with the boarders. Why? ‘‘Because that is bad habit.’’
Also, Jeppiar does not see why his students should visit cinemas or restaurants. ‘‘We provide everything here. I do not even have a canteen run by an outsider. We provide them with whatever they want, sweets, ice-creams, you name it. Why should they go elsewhere? If my students go out and mingle (in cinema theatres, restaurants) somebody will let me know about it,’’ he says.
Does he punish the students? ‘‘No, we don’t punish them. We only inform their parents,’’ he says.
Dr MRJayatheertha Rao, Principal, RMK College, says students are seated separately in class and he does not see what’s wrong with that. ‘‘Do you want them to sit next to each other?’’ he asks. ‘‘Anyway, they have mixed seating during the examinations and they do their training programmes together.’’
Pressed for more details, he says there are ‘‘some restrictions’’ for Ist and 2nd year students to ensure that the youngsters’ minds are ‘‘not diverted’’. But he adds that the students are only ‘‘warned’’ if caught talking, not ‘‘punished’’.
Repeated attempts to reach the Secretary of Higher Education Department over phone and fax, drew a blank. But, more than a month ago, a senior department official confirmed receiving the fax and said this was the first time the department had heard about what’s going on in these colleges. He said he would comment only after receiving a report that he has asked for from the Director of Technical Education.
On Wednesday, after waiting to hear from him all this time, when this reporter called up the same official, he said a team was supposed to visit these colleges to ascertain what was happening, but they hadn’t because the Director had been busy with some court cases.
He also said that he would speak to the Director again and would get back in a week’s time.
Whatever the ‘‘merits’’ of not letting boys and girls talk to each other, the psychologists on this paper spoke to do not think it is a good idea.
Dr Cherian, Director, Research and Treatment, TTK Hospital, says ‘‘suppression’’ only leads to unhealthy behaviour. Dr R Padamavati, Director, SCARF (Schizophrenia Research Foundation) and Psychiatrist, Sundaram Medical Foundation, says treating young adults like kids does not help because youngsters do not learn to behave like adults.
Sudha Ramalingam, Advocate, Madras High Court, says there is no law governing codes within a campus, but colleges cannot form by-laws preventing interaction between the sexes.
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