A new committee against sexual harassment, complaint boxes around campus, a compulsory gender sensitisation course in the curriculum, abolition of curfew hours in girls’ hostels: these are a few of the demands listed out in a charter that students have drawn up to submit to the Mumbai University vice-chancellor.
The initial draft of the charter, drawn up after discussions among students and staff members on Tuesday, under the umbrella of the newly-created University Community for Democracy and Equality, is likely to be handed to authorities within the next week.
Further, the students have asked that texts that promote misogyny be removed from the syllabus and that a “democratic space” be created on campus for free exchange of ideas.
“We the students, teachers and staff of Mumbai University demand that in the wake of the rising cases of crimes against women some urgent steps are required to be taken to ensure the safety and security of the women in the university campus,” said the preface to the letter.
“Together with this, attempts ought to be made to create a healthy environment in [the] university campus so that a sense of respect and equality could be developed not only towards women, but towards everyone.”
The group will be holding discussions and meetings over the course of the week with more students and staff to add more requests and suggestions to their charter. Once finalised, it will be submitted to the authorities.
“We will continue to interact with students and staff to get more feedback and suggestions,” said Prashant Singh, spokesperson, University Community for Democracy and Equality.
The university and affiliated colleges have been responding to issues of women’s safety on campus by strengthening complaints cells, sensitisation workshops and heightened surveillance.
The university’s women’s development cell has asked all affiliated colleges to address students on women’s issues on January 23.