Fearing misconduct, a Rajasthan varsity has created separate groups for undergraduate male and female students on mobile messaging platform WhatsApp to share information related to classes.
“This has been done because the university doesn’t want to share the mobile numbers of girls with boys,” said Prof AK Gahlot, vice chancellor of Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (RAJUVAS), Bikaner.
Last week, HT had exposed how recharge shop owners in UP were selling mobile numbers of girls to boys who would stalk and harass them.
With rise in smartphone use, students in most colleges and universities share information regarding schedules, lectures and even study materials among their classmates in WhatsApp groups.
In some cases, class representatives create the groups and share the information, while in others, teachers have taken up the task.
In RAJUVAS, the groups are officially created with one of the teachers as admin.
For each degree classes from first to fifth year the two separate groups have been created for boys and girls by the Integrated University Management System (IUMS)
in-charge two years ago, said Dr Praveen Bishnoi, associate professor, department of veterinary surgery and radiology.
At the undergraduate level, the university offers only one course - the five-year BVSc & AH degree course.
“In each group, apart from the students, the VC, the dean, the academic coordinator, the IUMS in-charge and all the concerned teachers are made members. One of the teachers is made the admin of the group,” Dr Bishnoi added.
Ajay Saharan, a third year student of Bachelors in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (BVSc&AH), supported the idea, saying it was for the privacy of girls.
While he stressed that students wouldn’t do “anything cheap”, he conceded that some can’t be trusted. “To have some fun, they might do something of that sort.”
The varsity’s students’ union president, Lokeshwar Singh Shekhawat, however, said it is more of a precautionary measure.
“I have been studying here for the past five years and there has been no problem of stalking as such in the university. There are classes where there is one group for both boys and girls,” the final year student of (BVSc&AH), said.
The separation is, however, restricted only for undergraduate students.
A research scholar told HT that at the postgraduate level they have common groups.
Retired professor Dr Anil Ahuja of department of clinical medicine, who taught at the postgraduate and doctorate level, also said that the WhatsApp groups were common for boys and girls at that level.
Prerna Nathawat, a research scholar, said girls in the varsity are wary of sharing their numbers in the common group.
“There have been no typical cases of stalking, but once in a while girls do face harassment from boys over phones,” she said, expressing fears of how numbers get shared among boys, even to outsiders.
“If you start giving your mobile numbers to people, it gets shared easily and then you face problems. It’s likely that the class boys leak numbers of the girls to outsiders,” she said.