I was told about this report of a student at a local engineering college (SMK Fomra Institute of Technology) in Chennai killing herself after she and some others were reprimanded for having company of the opposite sex. And no, I don’t mean ‘having company’; I only mean being in the presence of, and conversing with.
First off, to be fair, I don’t know that this is the whole story. I can’t, for example, understand how it is that a girl thinks her parents, who have been willing to send her to college 2000 km away, will object to her talking to guys. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what the story is being claimed to be – that she got a scolding, that she was told her parents would be informed that she was talking to, you know, boys, and that she was so distraught about even the possibility of this that she hanged herself. It doesn’t seem beyond possibility, to me, that there may have been other issues involved.
The girl, Anithra, was rebuked by the chairman of the college, S Fomra who also happened to be related to her. My beef about this episode is this: Even if one ignores the fact that the college was enforcing policy that wouldn’t pass a laugh test, and ignores that in order to better enforce their policies of sexual repression that would seem borderline strict in the 17th Century Mughal empire of Aurangazeb, the college was snooping on its own students with CCTV cameras installed all over campus, I still can’t imagine how it is that the Chairman of an engineering college has enough time, or motivation, or less sensibility and sensitivity than a dry turd to watch the feed from the CCTVs, discover infractions of ‘college policy’ and reprimand the ‘offenders’ himself. How does this happen? Is this what Chairpersons of colleges do, these days?
As it happens, I am in no mood to ignore the fact that there are co-ed colleges that would try or even want to enforce a policy that forbids students talking to people of the opposite sex. What the hell does the administration of this college think it is running? A high school in Khomeini’s Iran? A madrasa for the Taliban? The girl was an adult, for crying out loud. If she were caught fucking somebody in her hostel room, it still would be nothing more than an impressive feat of sneaking past the (presumably many) guards and cameras. It certainly would be none of the college’s goddamn business.
When will colleges learn to stop treating students like convicts? Or like sex-addicts who are just waiting for the people in charge to turn around for coffee to start fornicating?
I thought colleges were places which instil in you values of good judgement and sensibility, places that are the first periods of extended social life outside family, places that trained you for your life ahead. Contrast that with the utter idiocy on display here. If this is how our colleges are run, is it any surprise that this society reeks of sexual repression?
* On an unrelated note, the Times reporter says the fact that the girl was related to the chairman is ironic. Why? How is a relative of a college administrator any less likely to have personal issues? Or is it perhaps unworthy of attention if non-relatives of college administrators to kill themselves? Ironic! The idiocy.