Chennai: Taking a serious note of the sex scandal at Aruppukottai College, the higher education department on Wednesday sent a circular urging the universities and colleges to set up Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to prevent sexual harassment of women in educational institutions as per UGC regulations.
Adopting the UGC regulations 2015 for prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and students in higher educational institutions, the higher education department asked the Vice-Chancellors of Universities to sensitise the colleges on preventing sexual harassment on campuses.
As per the regulations, the committee shall have a woman faculty member as a presiding officer (not below a professor in case of university and not below an associate professor or reader in case of a college) at the educational institution, nominated by Vice-Chancellor or Principal. If the matter involves students, it also needs to have three students on the committee elected through a transparent democratic procedure. At least, half of the committee members shall be women.
However, senior administrators such as Vice-Chancellors, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, Registrar, Deans, Heads of Departments shall not be members of the ICCs in order to ensure the autonomy of their functioning. “In our university, the ICC was already has already been set up and it is very much active in the last few years,” said P.Duraisamy, Vice-Chancellor, Anna University. The committee has also enquired into a few harassment complaints as well.
“The colleges also have to follow UGC norms. In reality, affiliated colleges may not have an active committee to deal with such complaints. So, the universities were asked to sensitise the colleges regarding sexual harassment complaints,” he said.
Bharathidasan University Vice-Chancellor P.Manisankar has confirmed the university has received circular from the higher education department. He said the university will forward the circular to all the affiliated colleges to set up committees.
Anna University Vice-Chancellor M.K. Surappa said he is yet to go through the circular. “Anna University is having a committee to deal with sexual harassment complaints. But, I am not sure whether engineering colleges have these committees,” he said.
Despite All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) making it mandatory for all engineering colleges to have internal complaints committee to deal with sexual harassment complaints, many colleges have these committees only for the sake of it and students are also not complaining to these committees.
“We need to make colleges students friendly. Only if we are able to gain their confidence they will come out and complain about these kinds of harassments,” a principal from a city engineering college said.
Another city college principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The order will create awareness and motivate the colleges to set up an internal complaints committee. The colleges need to be reminded about it periodically.”
In a 19-minute audio clip that emerged over a month ago, Nirmala Devi, an assistant professor of Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai, was heard luring four of her girl students to do sexual favours in return for money and academic progress. It stirred huge controversy and sent shock waves across the country....