Principals and students across the city are worried a day after a third year BMS student of Chetana College was stabbed by her classmate. Repeated cases of school and college students being targeted by strangers or even peers have left many concerned about the vulnerability of students.
“We are always worried about students’ safety, even outside the college. Students must be prepared to face any situation. This year, we started a martial arts program for girls and received a phenomenal response,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, Bandra. The college also conducts regular sessions on stress and anger management for students and counsels them.
Students of Sophia College at Grant Road recently came together for an open discussion forum on ‘Violence Against Women’ to protest against the Delhi gang-rape incident. The attack on the Chetana College student has forced students to look at safety more keenly. “We will get in touch with police officials to collaborate towards sustainable steps for justice and safety to all citizens, especially students,” said Shruti Parmar, the student body’s president for Sophia College.
“There is immense anger in many people these days. Many youngsters do not have any friends to share their problems, leading to suppressed anger. People who bottle up too much pressure are prone to this,” said Dr Seema Hingorrany, a clinical psychologist. She also pointed to the need for better counseling and emotional education for students.
“The level of preparedness to handle emotional issues is really low and needs to be bettered soon,” she added.
On Saturday, principals of several Mumbai colleges met to discuss the need for safety of their students. This comes close on the heels of the death of a 21-year-old Chetana College student who was stabbed by her own classmate.
An important discussion at the meeting was the decision to start a helpline within the next thirty days, which will be open between 7am and 7pm on working days. Students can put in their suggestions and talk about difficulties faced by them in college on this helpline.
“This facility will be available to the students of those colleges who volunteer to be part of this network. A nominal fee will be charged to the colleges for this facility,” said a principal. Other modalities of the helpline will be released in few days.
“It is a challenge, which the administrators, teachers, parents and state have to face. We have to work out the process to achieve zero occurrence of such violence and conflicts in the campus,” said Dinesh Panjwani, principal of R D National College, Bandra (W), where the meet was held.
“There needs to be better interaction between parents and teachers. Parents also need to take keen interest in their child’s friend-circle, so that they don’t fall into wrong company,” said another principal.
The principals highlighted the role of class teachers. There was a need for them to act as facilitators and counsellors to help in the emotional growth of students. The appointment of counsellors was also discussed.
“It is also important to keep students engaged in sports to ensure that their energies are channelized. The state as well as University Grants Commission need to create funds for ‘gender sensitizing’ sessions, which include sessions on self-defence for girls,” added Panjwani. He said that a request to the education department to include lessons on gender equality in the curriculum will be made.
Principals also agreed on the need to get rid of unauthorized tobacco and liquor stalls near schools and colleges.
“Any violence or unauthorized entry in an educational institution should be made a non-bailable offence,” said a principal. The principals will send their recommendations to the government, the secretary of higher and technical education and the vice-chancellor of Mumbai University.
Source: The Times of India
In the backdrop of the Chetna college stabbing, city colleges have decided that they will now take care of their students they way schools do.
In a meeting of principals on Saturday at RD National College in Bandra, colleges observed that a teaching curriculum alone is insufficient; extracurricular steps are a must.
They put down recommendations, which have been communicated to the state government as well as the Mumbai University. In the letter, they asked for these steps to be made mandatory and be a part of a comprehensive policy for the youth, so that all colleges implement them.
Dinesh Panjawani, principal of RD National College and secretary of the Union of College Principals Association, said, “All colleges need to start parent-teacher meetings on regular basis; the concept of class teachers is also important; regular periods for sports, yoga and meditation are needed to channelise student’ energy in right direction.”
In the letter, colleges also requested that the government appoint full-time sports directors and counsellors in all colleges and fund gender-sensitisation activities.
Panjawani said: “Many colleges conduct parent-teacher meetings but as they are not compulsory, parents don’t pay heed to them. This creates a communication gap so their’ involvement should be made mandatory.”
All city colleges must have counselling centre to help students deal with their personal problems, feel professors following the attack on Chetna College of Commerce and Economics student Sonal Shah, 21, (name changed).
On December 22, Sonal’s classmate Nikhil Banker stabbed her eight times with a kitchen knife on the college premises and then killed himself. They were reportedly in a relationship a year ago.
“Students pursuing undergraduate courses are mostly above 18 years and naturally have relationship issues. In extreme cases, we request the parents to arrange for the counselling because colleges do not have such infrastructure,” said Shiv Prasad, professor and coordinator of self-finance courses at Chetna College.
Praveish Vishwanathan, theKhalsa College professor who started a Broken Heart Club at few colleges to support students struggling with relationship problems, said: “We know of several break-ups in college, but feel helpless. Every college should have an interpersonal counselling centre to help such students. It is as important as a career guidance centre.”
Also, many introvert students don’t have friends to share their emotions. Daisy Alexandria, principal of Rizvi Law College said, “Sometimes they don’t even open up with their parents, but may talk in front of others. The university should frame guidelines to start such centres in colleges.”
Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist also supported the idea.
“Like schools, colleges too should have counselling sessions to help youngsters, who often silently deal with such problems and may be not able to cope with it as they do not enjoy the support of family or friends.”
Shocked by the stabbing of a Chetana College student, even as educationists are set to draft rules to ensure safety for pupils on campuses, they believe that the security measures would have little impact; it’s the psychological mindset of the current generation of students that needs to change before any kind of safety can be hoped for, they say.
“This is a sociological problem that has to be treated correctly. Colleges can come up with a host of rules to be followed on the premises but they will not make any sense once the students step outside. We have to understand the students’ psychology and change it if required,” said Dinesh Panjwani, principal of R D National College in Bandra.
On Saturday, principals of around 20 colleges, including that of Chetana College, will attend a meeting at R D National College to discuss students’ safety. “The members of Mumbai College Principals’ Association will jot down steps that will be implemented to prevent a repeat of the Chetana College incident,” said Panjwani.
Some institutes plan to hold workshops to reach out to students and understand their personal problems. “We have to change the mindset of students as well as that of their parents. Being treated with kid gloves, an entire generation has grown up into a bunch full of ego. They cannot accept denial,” said Kavita Rege, principal of Sathaye College, which has organized two workshops with Women’s Development Cell. There, the participants discussed topics such as gender equality, inferiority complex and handling emotions.
While most colleges will add more CCTV cameras, some principals have decided that students’ bags will be checked to prevent them from carrying sharp objects or weapons inside. “But the measures will hardly help understand the students’ psyche. We need something more concrete,” said the principal of a Kalyan college.
“It is important to keep youths busy even after college and encourage them to get engaged in extra-curricular activities,” said Indu Shahani, principal of HR College, adding her college staff would meet pupils to understand their reaction to the Chetana incident.
Source: The Times of India