Letter to the student body

Dear all,

In the first GBM of this semester held last Saturday, 20th June, ’09, some of us took up the pressing issue of the ‘new security rules’ that are in force now. We tried to raise this issue for two reasons: one, the rules have been made and imposed on us (while most of us were not even here) without the consent of the General Body of the students undermining our democratic rights; two, despite the Students’ Union and others having formally registered our objections on this issue with the authorities, our opinion has been disregarded and the ‘new rules’ printed in this year’s Students’ Handbook.

In the interest of making clear the issue at hand, we would like to present to you a brief summary of the events as it has occurred until now, our objections to the institute’s responses and our rightful demands.

As a response to the sexual assault on one of our colleagues in the month of April, ‘09, the administration of Tata Institute of Social Sciences introduced a set of ‘new security rules’, claiming them to only be ‘clarifications’ on the existing rules as printed in our handbook. But they were in fact new rules seeking to exercise more control over our movements as free, conscientious adults.

We elaborate below on how the new rules curtail the limited freedom of movement that we had earlier.

New Rule Consequent Change
1. Students residing in hostel are supposed to be inside the Institute’s campus latest by 12 am. Earlier, if we had to go out of campus, we were allowed to exit the campus latest by 12.30 a.m. and we could enter the campus with Id-cards later than that for a limited number of times in a month.
2. Students residing in hostel can be removed from the hostel if one enters campus later than 12   a.m. more than three times. Clause 5.19 of the Student Handbook stated that students will be permitted to enter after 12.30 a.m. four times in a month and not three times. The Handbook stated that students violating the rule will be served an explanation letter and no mention exists of being removed from the hostel.
3. According to the new rules the non-resident students are supposed to leave the campus before 12am because no entry/exit is allowed after that. In the rules for the 2008-10 Batch Clause 5.19 made no mention of the non-resident students. Thereby the new rule becomes no mere

clarification on the older one. In addition, it clearly implies discrimination (even if unintended) against the non-resident students who are subsequently devoid of  equal access to resources like the internet.

4. A new provision has been introduced wherein parents will be informed in writing whenever students come in later than 12 a.m. Clause 5.19 makes no mention of parents being informed about the students’ movements. This measure amounts to a breach of the privacy   of adult students.

These rules not only hurt our legal constitutional freedoms but also breed a divide between the resident and non-resident students by allowing the latter unequal access to resources. While we, as post-graduate students, have been struggling for greater autonomy and democracy for students on the TISS campus, these rules come as a major blow to our efforts.

The new rules were put up on hostel notice boards during the vacation period without any consultation with the Students’ Body. Some of us who were on campus then, had opposed these rules by submitting a letter to the Director with signatures of over 100 students. The Director had made it known that for him the rules were up to only June 21, 2009, after which the student body would engage in discussions with the administration in formulating new rules for our security. This assurance has been abandoned in printing the new rules for the students in the latest Students’ Handbook. It follows that they are applicable to all without exception. This undemocratic decision stands as a breach of trust by the administration.

We would appeal to all the students to recognize the gravity of this issue and play a pro-active role in building a progressively freer atmosphere for the students of TISS.

Concerned students of TISS

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