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A revolt waiting to happen

The AICTE notice was the matchstick which lit the simmering discontent at Satyabhama, says Shravan Sampath.

Engineering in Chennai is not a degree. It’s a way of life. When students pass out of the twelfth standard, the argument at home is not whether they want to do engineering or Sciences or Arts, but only about which engineering college to join.

It leaves students’ with many choices, Venkateswara, which is a mecca for placements; Hindustan, a fun place to be in to meet the “right” crowd. Somewhere in the discussion, a name pops up which stuns the young prospective engineer into silence: Sathyabama Deemed University.

Every young student grows up listening to horror stories about Sathyabama: This institution was founded by Jeppiaar, a former minister in Tamil Nadu, and respected educationist.

The rules are as follows
You can’t interact with students of the opposite sex. You can’t even interact with faculty of the opposite sex outside class. In fact, the Computer Science Department has different staff rooms for male and female faculty. The students wear formal clothes to college everyday, travel in the college bus (mandatory!) which has separate enclosures for boys and girls. Such stories make the student resolve never to join this place. However, there is always a push from the parents, a traditional South Indian family who want their boy/ girl to grow up the right way (read no dating, no jeans and no cellphones). So the kid makes the trade off of a bike or a computer, and joins Sathyabhama.

I passed out in 2004. For four years, I suffered these rules, wondering when this madness would get over. This madness, where a friend had to call his parents all the way from Delhi because he failed a unit test. This madness, where hostels were ransacked every fortnight and all electronic gadgets were seized. I could go on all day, but you get the drift. It ended last week, when students’ went on a strike to protest the withdrawal of AICTE affiliation to the students.

But was that the real reason?
Most insiders inform me that the real reason for this strike was the inhuman rules, and the AICTE affiliation was only the tipping point. I can thoroughly understand that.

The students’ of Sathyabama engineering college were in bad shape already. After becoming a deemed university, I hear that students are not being allowed to write their university examinations for violations of this medieval code of conduct. This revolution has manifested itself before, in isolated incidents of students standing up against the management. This is the first time a united voice has been raised against the tyranny of Thiru. Jeppiaar.

Will this incident make him understand that the generation has changed, that he cannot hold 3000 students under his control and deny them the rights that this nation has bestowed on them? If AICTE allows him to carry on, will parents read this article and spare their wards of 4 years of jail? I do not believe anyone can help the student, if he will not help himself. If this system has to change, it has to begin with the student. The revolution has begun. I can only wish it luck.

The rules & regulations of Sathyabama University:
a) All requisition letters for Expenditure certificate, Industrial visit permission, all ODs, leave letters, medical certificate, permission, hostel matters including permission and leave should be addressed to DIRECTOR.

b) All requisition letters for Bonafide Certificates, scholarship form, charitable trust scholarship form and Inplant training should be addressed to VICE-CHANCELLOR.

c) Keeping and using cellular phones are strictly prohibited inside university campus and hostels. The students are not supposed to bring cameras, walkmans etc.

d) Smoking is strictly not allowed inside the University campus.

e) Both the boys and girls should not talk to each other anywhere in the campus or in the University buses. Anybody violating this will be punished and both the parents will be intimidated about this. Even regarding the doubts pertaining the studies the boys students should not ask the girl students and vice versa. They should clear their doubts with the University staff in their classes and staff rooms only. The books and study material should not be exchanged between boys and girls.

f) The parents are requested not to provide any two-wheelers or four-wheelers to their wards.

g) The parents are also requested not to provide money to their wards during college hours.

h) The boys should not wear metal bracelets, like silver and copper. Both the boys and girls should not wear costly jewelry. The girls and boys are not supposed to carry huge amounts into the campus. The management is not responsible if any student loses any jewelry or cash to the management, the management will take actions to search the lost jewelry or cash.

i) The boys are not allowed to come with French beard and any kind of fashionable or stylish hair cuts. They should not bleach their hair.

j) The girls should tie their hair inside the campus.

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