Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 20:
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines to set up police stations in campuses of all universities across the country, including Odisha, to ensure the safety of the students of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) on and off the campus.
UGC Secretary Dr Jaspal S Sandhu, in a letter to vice Chancellors of all universities, has emphasised that ensuring students’ safety from attacks, threats and accidents should be the prime concern of educational administrators.
The UGC suggested to set up police stations on campus to allay security concerns, besides commissioning of a student body of Community Service Officers. “With students studying late night, these officers can provide short distance escort service to the nearest taxi or bus stand, besides helping with night patrol,” says the guideline document.
“Safe, secure and cohesive learning climate is a precondition to quality education and research in HEIs,” it said.
Installing emergency notification system on the lines of the successful University of California’s ‘WarnMe’ model was another suggestion.
“HEIs can take all necessary steps to install an emergency notification system, which will send an emergency message via email, telephone, cell phone and text messaging within minutes of occurrence of an incident that poses an immediate threat to health and safety of campus community members,” the guideline document said.
Self-defence training for women studying and working on campus should be made a mandatory component of extra-curricular activities undertaken in HEIs, the document noted. Calling on institutions to set up support and education mechanisms to educate students on sexual violence, colleges were instructed to confront oppressive stereotypes which cause interpersonal violence.
UGC also mandated institutions to set up ‘Students Counselling system’ for managing problems and challenges faced by them.
“It should be a unique, interactive and target-oriented system involving teachers and parents, resolving to address concerns ranging from anxiety, stress, fear of change and failure, to homesickness and a slew of academic worries.” Teacher-counsellors trained to act as guardians of students are to submit growth report and feedback to parents and help in initiating corrective action upon discovering anomaly in behaviour patterns.
Some of the points of the guidelines on Safety of Students on and off Campuses of Higher Educational Institutions include securing HEIs or hostels by a boundary wall of such height that it cannot be scaled over easily.
The guidelines said in order to further fortify it, a fence of spiralling barbed wires can be surmounted on the wall so that unauthorized access to the infrastructure is prevented effectively.
Biometric way of marking student attendance, both in HEI as well as hostels, can be an effective way to overcome proxy, they added.
Students and staff should be provided easily identifiable and authentic ID cards and wearing of such cards in the institutional premises must be made compulsory by administration.
The entry points to such housing units should be restricted to three or less and they should be manned by at least three security guards, sufficiently armed, CC TV cameras, identity verification mechanism and register of unknown entrants/visitors with their identity proofs and contact details. At least one woman security personnel should be deployed at such entry points so that physical security check of girl students or visitor can be undertaken.
The bags and other belongings of students or visitors should also be examined, manually or by metal detectors, to secure a weapon-free and violence-free campus, guidelines said.