A member of Lok Raj Sangathan, who has been studying Law at S.N.D.T. University for the past two years, says that students have always been afraid of their hostel warden. For the past two years the hostel warden has been harassing the girls at the Juhu campus regarding their dressing sense by keeping them in a constant state of fear. That is why the girls see her as their enemy. Students have complained about her in the past but no action has been taken.
Once the girls found a cockroach in their food! They had all complained but they were told it was ‘jeera’ and that they have a tendency of complaining unecessarily.
The students have been complaining about the food being inedible, the bad water, the terrible condition of their rooms and so on, but all their complaints fall on deaf ears. They’ve even written letters which have been ignored. The students who persistently complain end up getting targeted by the warden and harassed. Some days back the students were dealing with some major skin problems due to the terrible water on campus. They came together and raised their complaints.
Two days later the warden saw one of the girls walking around sleeveless on campus and rudely questioned her, to which the girl said the doctor had advised her to do so due to her skin rash. Without even listenening to her she took the girl in a room and asked her to undress and asked her to show which area was affected by her skin problem. After such a traumatic incident the girl was utterly humilaited and depressed and even tried to commit suicide! Once this news spread, on 13th October 2018 the students organised a protest against the warden.
The affected girl along with some students went and filed an FIR against the warden. 400 students participated in the protest. They gave some photos and statements to the press after which the press landed up on campus. The students held their ground and protested from 2 pm in the afternoon to 9 pm at night!
The demands of the studnets were:
- To arrest the warden based on the FIR against her
- Removal of the superintendent
- A solution to all the pending problems on campus
Intending to get rid of the press and temporarily console the students, the warden was suspended for 5 days. The students were told that the Vice Chancellor would meet them but once again the authorities didn’t keep their word. Surprise, surprise…The students resumed the protest and firmly demanded that until they met the Vice Chancellor, they wouldn’t leave.
On 14th October, the registrar came and announced that the committee had a discussion with him, so why do you need the Vice Chancellor now!…But the students didn’t budge and demanded to meet the Vice Chancellor because for the past two years they had been complaining to her but she hadn’t done a single thing.The Vice Chancellor finally arrived at 7:30 to meet them and requested them to end their protest, saying that it was spoiling the name of the University. She tried to comfort them by saying that the warden was going to be removed and along with that all their problems would be solved. She insisted that the students shouldn’t say anything to the press that would make her and the University look bad.
Three days after the protest, the Vice Chancellor and some students leading the protest were called for a press conference. The V.C. claimed that she had never received any written complaint and that all the problems on campus had been resolved. The students were not allowed to speak about anything including their demands and were forced to keep silent throughout the entire conference. After the conference some reporters questioned the students that during the protest they had a lot to say but today they hadn’t said anything? Our LRS member replied to them that they had no idea that this would happen and that they weren’t given a chance to speak. To which the reporter encouraged them, saying that they are doing wonderful work and if they ever needed anything they could feel free to contact him.
On returning from the conference, the students realised that the Vice Chancellor had planned this in advance. The water and food were sent to the lab for testing and the WiFi was started as well. When the students had refused to back down from the protest on the first day, in order to prevent any complaints against the canteen staff, they were served extremely delicious food which left the students completely surprised! At the time of going to press it is not certain whether the warden would be kept in custody or not, but the students are determined on keeping her in custody to ensure that such an incident doesn’t get repeated. All the students require a safe and secure environment to ensure that they can study with complete freedom.
This entire struggle was given proper leadership by a team including our brave LRS member. All the students very courageously participated in this struggle which has been dragging for quite a few years. It truly is a great success but it is not the end yet. This is a long struggle which we need to ceaselesly continue.
STUDENT OF SNDT