The human resource development (HRD) ministry has directed all central universities to put up large boards on the campus informing students about anti-discrimination officers. The boards will carry contact details of the officers as well as the internal complaints committee so that students are aware where to lodge complaints when the new academic session starts this year.
The move assumes significance in the wake of students’ agitations, which a number of higher education institutions are witnessing with the latest being NIT-Srinagar. A decision regarding this was taken at a meeting of all the vice-chancellors chaired by HRD minister Smriti Irani in February this year.
“One of the complaints that we usually get from students is lack of knowledge of a redressal mechanism in case of harassment. This move will help the students in a big way,” said a senior HRD official.
All the 40-odd central universities have been asked to send a compliance report to the ministry.
Besides, all universities have been asked to provide information to students about the prevention of sexual harassment committee.
“A number of new students will join this academic year and many are not aware if such committees exist. That is why, we have decided to start this initiative from this year so that students have easy access to such grievance mechanism,” said a senior HRD official.
Suicide by Rohith Vemula, a dalit PhD student of Hyderabad University, had sparked protests across the country that led to the HRD ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) deciding on holding sensitisation programmes for academic administrators and taking steps to ensure there is no discrimination on the campus.
During the vice-chancellors’ conference it was decided to put in place a transparent proactive mechanism for grievance redressal of the university community, including students, staff and faculty. It was also decided to appoint an anti-discrimination officer.
In March, the UGC had also asked all universities and colleges to have a special page on their website wherein students can register complaints of caste discrimination.