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Hyderabad: Students angry over strict rules in technical colleges

Hyderabad: Not just the ICFAI Business School (IBS), but scores of colleges in Hyderabad have a paternalistic attitude towards their students, often treating them as children rather than adults.

Several prominent engineering colleges in the city, such as Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology (SNIST), Chaitanya Bharati Institute of Technology (CBIT), and Maturi Venkata Subba Rao Engineering College (MVSR) have similar policies. Students, both day scholars and hostel inmates, are expected to attend every class. If they wish to go home for emergencies, they must seek permission from the head of their department, who would probably speak to the student’s parents on the phone to confirm the reasons.
A student from the CBIT, told Deccan Chronicle, “Our college had an open-gate system until two years ago. Today, our every move is monitored. If we miss a class, a text message gets sent to our parents. Also, the whole day’s attendance is cancelled. If our attendance falls below 65 per cent, we are threatened with detainment.”

 He said it was insulting for the students to be treated like school children. “Do we have no agency of our own? Why do they keep complaining to our parents all the time?” he asked.

A student from MVSR, said, “We are infantilised at every step. They keep threatening us with phone calls to our parents. The management only talks about parents’ interests, as if we are not even a part of the equation.”

Some colleges such as IBS go the extra distance. Here, students are made to walk through metal detectors and frisked by security guards! Those returning to the campus after a day out are even made to blow in a breathalyser machine to check for inebriation! While students are naturally critical of this patronising behaviour of their colleges, managements claim the rules are in place for the students’ welfare.

Venkata Seshaiah, director of IBS, said, “Most of our students are good. They don’t mind these rules since they won’t do anything wrong. But there are some unruly elements who are spoiling them.”

On being asked why the students could not ask for their autonomy, he said, “Our primary aim is to protect the interests of the parents. If something goes wrong, who will be questioned?” Were the students not stakeholders?

“Yes! That is why we are so concerned for them. During academic sessions, we are only asking them to attend classes. After classes, we only want them to stay safe. The students might be mature, but we cannot neglect our responsibilities,” Mr Seshaiah said, unaware of how authoritarian he sounded.

A student from IBS told Deccan Chronicle she felt like everyone assumed she was a criminal and she needed to prove her innocence every day at the institute’s gate. That her institute wanted to keep her safe didn’t matter to her. “I can take care of myself. If I need them, I will ask for help. I don’t need another parent, I have those at home,” she said.