The best part of being a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) obviously lies in the fact it is one of best universities of the country. Other than that, what attracts the students towards this institution is the freedom that it offers.
The safety and security it provides to the students, movement of girls in boys hostel without any prohibitions and above a free environment to live an independent student’s life.
This can be attributed to the University’s Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment, one-of-its-kind body that plays a critical role in creating awareness among students regarding the importance of gender sensitivity. GSCASH, popularly known as, has the authority to take serious actions like expelling and suspension against those students who are allegedly caught in sexual harassment case. It undoubtedly creates an impression that the campus has no place for miscreants.
“In JNU, a large number of students come from the rural background. Many are unaware of the rights and what is happening around them,” says Lovely Srivastava, an independent candidate fighting the GSCASH election to be held on March 20. “By conducting regular camps we try to make the students aware about the necessary transformation of male-female relationship with the time,” she says.
Presently, the JNU campus is buzzing with election talks these days. Nearly 7000 students studying the university are ready to elect representatives to the GSCASH.
“It comprises the elected and nominated representatives from all sections of the community — students, teachers, wardens, administrative staff — apart from one eminent woman academic from outside the university, one woman representative of a non-governmental organisation and a counsellor,” says another candidate Abhiruchi Ranjan, an M Phil student of Centre for Political Studies. “The main function of GSCASH is gender sensitisation and orientation, crisis management, mediation and formal enquiry and redress,” she says.
But as the election fever is gripping the campus, several issues of little faith in GSCASH as a competent body for safety and security; gender sensitisation have been raised by independent candidates contesting elections this year. “There have been several instances where the committee’s decision has been diluted by the administration,” says Srirupa Bhattacharya. Surprisingly, out of the 21 cases filed since 2010 in GSCASH, only two were completed till 2012.
Another candidate Tintumol Josheph points out the major issue related to security of women in the campus. “Several alarming incidents of sexual harassment including lewd comments being passed at dhabas, on roads etc have been reported in recent months. Along with the sensitisation drive it is important to improve security in the campus in order to check this disturbing trend,” she says.