IIT Madras is in the middle of a raging controversy after its hostel administration breached basic privacy allowances by publicly revealing details of one of its inmates on their notice board. After a surprise check, the administration put out a list of those who had ‘breached’ hostel rules, in the process naming and shaming the individual in whose room used condoms were found in the bin.
Several research scholars and hostel inmates have been up in arms ever since, accusing the hostel authorities of harassment and violating their privacy.
During the vigilance check, the hostel staff stumbled upon a lot of banned items in the rooms like iron boxes, egg boiler, electric kettle, water cooler, mini fridge, water heater rod, etc. However, in one room, the squad even found 20 cigarette butts, matchboxes and used condoms in dustbin, The New Indian Express reported.
Students alleged that the vigilance officers barged into their rooms, clicked pictures without consent and insulted them. Besides levying a hefty fine of Rs 5,000, the hostel office chose to publicly shame the student for possessing condoms.
His name was published with other students who were found to be in violations of the hostel rules. Depending on the seriousness of what they perceived to be seriousness of the offence, the hostel office slapped Rs 500 to Rs 10,000, The News Minute reported. A woman research scholar, who did not wish to be named, alleged that vigilance officials barged into rooms, pulled things out and admonished them over their ‘personal choices’.
“We are all adults…it is really demeaning to experience all this. We might have a lot of stuff that we do not want others to see. It need not even be prohibited things. It is a clear violation of our right to privacy and dignity,” Hindustan Times quoted her as saying. Earlier in April, students at IIT Madras staged a protest in the campus after a clerical staff took a video of a student hugging her friend on the campus. When he was caught red-handed by the students, the staff claimed that he did it to show them that their acts were ‘immoral’.
The dean of students, MS Sivakumar, said that that after they received complaints from the students, and the vigilance officers were apprised and told not to click photographs.
He said the charges do not reveal the whole picture, adding checks are conducted by ex-servicemen trained to deal with such issues.
“Vigilance officers are the ones tasked to enforce hostel rules and check for violations. We don’t know if we can call it harassment or enforcement,” he told PTI.
Twitter also came out in support of the student and slammed the hostel authorities for moral policing.
@iitmadras What do you guys want? India is 2nd most populous country and if a student is using condoms then its worrying you.. the thing that should worry you is those who don’t use it.. don’t you think?? pic.twitter.com/M4Ej5p4R5C
— Aditya VARDHANN (@AVardhann) December 4, 2018
— Shailen (@shailen) December 4, 2018
@iitmadras hostel admin should support safe sex than chastising the student for using condom. If the students are above 18, they have right to have safe consensual sex. Hostel admins need to get in touch with modern times.
— Shounak Deshpande (@8Shounak8) December 4, 2018