Following the University of Mumbai’s (MU) decision to lift the night curfew for girls’ hostels, students denied claims by Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) that it had agitated for changes in hostel rules.
HT on Tuesday reported that the MU had agreed to do away with the rules prohibiting women students from venturing out of their hostels during night, after the girls called the rules ‘discriminatory’. In a letter to the students, vice-chancellor (V-C) Sanjay Deshmukh announced that the girls and boys or their hostels at the university’s Kalina campus will be subjected to same rules, starting Wednesday. The university’s Campus Development Committee (CDC), on Tuesday, formally adopted the new rules.
ABVP, in a statement, suggested that the rules are the result of the combined efforts by the women and the organisation. “[The] gender bias was not acceptable to us. So some students went on hunger strike till the gender bias was over,” read the statement.
The issue of different hostel timings for male and female students came to light after the university agreed to open up the campus library round-the-clock, following a protest by students led by ABVP. However, owing to the hostel rules, the girls were prohibited from using the library during nighttime.
The university had then assured the protesting students that it will start a reading room in the girls’ hostels to facilitate the women studying at night. It also announced setting up a committee to come up with a solution for the issue. According to women students, they continued demanding equal access to library and same rules for both the gender despite the ABVP accepting solution provided the varsity officials.
“This is to clarify that the ABVP has not been associated with our movement after they left us midway and withdrew support, accepting the discriminatory settlement made by the administration,” read a statement by Disowning Barriers, a group of women students struggling for equitable rules in MU hostels. They insisted that no student union was part of the negotiations between hostelites and MU authorities.
In its statement, the university said its decision to open the Kalina campus library round-the-cock was based on the demands made by both the ABVP and women students. It also cited the University Grants Commissions’ (UGC) guidelines on women’s safety in campuses as the reason for putting in place the new rules.
On its part, ABVP said that it never “settled” for the authorities’ solution. “We had just accepted it as a temporary measure, allowing the university some time to reach a solution. In fact, we continued to follow-up on the issue with the authorities,” said Rohit Chandode, general secretary, ABVP Mumbai.