On Tuesday, female students of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) staged a protest. They were agitating against exclusion of hostel facilities, access to Jayakar Library and the earn-and-learn scheme.

The exclusion started this year for diploma and certificate course students. It has also affected students enrolled in the university’s new degree courses.

Students’ Fury

Around 400 women students gathered at Aniket Canteen on the campus. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Students’ Union supported them and registered their protest. The women students also met vice-chancellor Nitin Karmalkar to discuss the problems.

A student from the Pali department said, “We’ve not been given hostel accommodation and now we are doubtful we will get it at all. Similarly, we are not allowed to use the Jayakar Library or avail the earn-and-learn scheme. We have sought equanimity for all students and the withdrawal of the policy introduced this year for exclusion of diploma and certificate course students.”

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Another student studying Environment Science said, “When we applied for the new course introduced, it was under the assumption that we would get hostel facilities. But we got the e-mail denying us hostel accommodation later. This is really not acceptable. Similarly, why should any student be kept out of the library. Why are they denied the opportunity to avail the earn-and-learn opportunity?”

The problems in particular have no gender bias attached to them. But the girls felt the need to stage a protest, essentially due to hostel accommodation.

Somnath Patil, member of the NCP students’ union, explained, “Though the issues are common to both boys and girls, the complaints are more from the latter as they are finding it more difficult to find safe accommodation and adjust, unlike the men,”

Authorities Respond

Keeping in mind the protest, the administration has relaxed their restrictions partly. Arvind Shaligram, registrar, SPPU mentioned, “While we are trying to consider all requests of the students, there are resource constraints. We can still open the Jayakar Library for all. Providing hostel accommodation and or opportunities under the earn-and-learn scheme may remain out of bounds for the diploma students. At the same time, a committee is scrutinising the applications for hostel application before making allocations.”

Abhishek Boke, a Senate member, said, “We have been getting complaints from many girls regarding this discriminatory policy.

“We’ve demanded the university treat all students equally and cater to their hostel and other needs. If new courses are started by the university, it is its responsibility to offer the infrastructure needed by these students.”

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Megha Thadani is an Intern with Shethepeople.

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