A young student, who won the first rank for BA History at Union Christian College in Aluva of Ernakulam district, has rejected an award in protest against the misogynistic and anti-student policies of the college. The student Mileena Saju, 22, in a Facebook post said that she respectfully rejects the award as educational institutions should be a space where the society’s tendency to privilege men over women are identified and destroyed. The award presentation was to be held on Saturday, November 13. The UC College, as the institution is known, was in the news in August last year after a group of students had accused one of the professors of behaving inappropriately with female students.
“I have been invited to receive the Sri K Narayana Menon Memorial Award on Saturday as I have received first rank for BA History from MG University. I respectfully reject the award in protest against the misogynistic and anti-student policies of the college that I have witnessed during my academic life at UC,” the FB post, put on November 11, said.
“We students expect a certain amount of respect/consideration from the authorities as we are the backbone of any educational institution. The society itself has a tendency to privilege men over women and this patriarchy has been implicitly or explicitly lurking in the corners of almost all the social institutions for centuries. Educational institutions should be a space where such tendencies are identified and destroyed. But it is unfortunate that these educational institutions themselves facilitate patriarchy and strengthen gender roles. We women have been degraded and oppressed quite a lot in history but this is the 21st century and we have come a long way and we are not willing to bend down to institutional impunity. Because we do remember!” the post further said.
In August last year, a group of students from the college created an Instagram page called Papicha. In a video posted on the page, some of the female students of the college raised allegations against a professor who was heading one of the Departments in the college. The professor has been accused of inappropriately touching a former student in the college canteen. The former student in the video spoke of how she felt as he held her inappropriately. The Internal Committee against sexual harassment dismissed the allegations against the professor and said that’s how the professor behaved and the students had interpreted it in the “wrong way.”
“We do remember how a sexual predator who traumatised a number of women students is still occupying a respectable teaching position in the college,” Mileena’s post said. “We do remember how the Internal Complaints Committee utterly dismissed the complaints regarding the ragging of a 13-year-old on the campus. We do remember the hostel rules that are utterly oppressive and shockingly sexist.”
Speaking to TNM, Mileena said that the ICC had once dismissed a complaint against a male student for ragging a 13-year-old girl — the daughter of a professor — on campus. “I believe that an anti-women fabric is at the core of the college. There is an anti-women ragging group of male students, who I believe got endorsement from the authorities' oppressive policies towards women," she said.
“We also remember how the ICC has utterly disregarded our concerns and has been always taking the side of the oppressor. The mental trauma that we women go through has its roots in the centuries old oppression and sexual exploitation on which even the institutions that we belong to and believe in always turn a blind eye. We do remember how the prominent famous alumni who enthusiastically and vocally proclaim their pride in being part of the college had remained mute when the issues were boiling up,” Mileena’s FB post said.
“We remember not to forget because our memory is history. We may not have achieved the so-called victory but we do have a story to tell which we will recite along our way. So in the future lies the solution. Because we are the future and we don't forget. Therefore, I reject the Sri K Narayana Menon Memorial Award protesting the denial of justice to the women community in the college on behalf of all the women,” Mileena said.