The arrest of a teaching faculty member of Government Arts College, Coimbatore, on Friday, for misbehaving with a girl student has stirred a debate among colleges on the necessary measures to be taken to prevent such incidents.
Government Arts College has already reacted by barring teachers from speaking to students over the phone or messaging them. Besides, teachers should not meet students in a staff room or an isolated place in the college.
The college administration also asked students to dress in a ‘decent manner’. While boys are barred from wearing jeans, girls are prohibited from wearing jeans or leggings and a dupatta is made mandatory with a salwar for them.
Restrictions were also imposed for students’ movement inside the campus after college hours. Several other colleges in the city have sent similar instructions to their staff and students.
Principal of Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts and Science B L Shiva Kumar said he has instructed teachers to behave in a dignified manner with the students and asked them to avoid speaking to students on topics other than academic matters.
B Anirudhan, principal of Nehru Arts and Science College, said students have been given instructions about a decent dress code.
On the other hand, D Brindha, principal of PSG College of Arts and Science, where 14,000 students study, says preventing phone conversations may create a divide between students and teachers. “This may not be healthy in an academic institution when most conversations happen through phone after the pandemic.” However, we have reconstituted the internal complaints committee and students are free to approach in case of any harassment, she said.
A faculty member from Dr GR Damodaran College of Science said restricting interaction between students and teachers especially at the PhD level may affect the research work. So institutions must be careful while framing such rules, even as the colleges must make students feel safe.
Meanwhile, the regional joint director of collegiate education has asked all colleges to ensure that internal complaint committees probe complaints received from students.
The immediate reaction against the sexual harassment of students from college is appreciable. Teaching is a noble profession and every teacher should understand and make their path to enlighten the student’s knowledge alone.
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