The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Students forced to play host, entertain

Ranchi, Dec. 6: Students of the prestigious Ranchi Women’s College, mostly hostellers, are badly overworked. But they have not been studying.

Since a new principal took over last year, the girls have been doubling as “hostesses”, “ushers”, “cultural mascots” of the Ranchi University and even “performing” at functions organised off campus.

Seminars, cultural evenings, workshops, book releases, fashion shows, sex education workshop, exhibitions and inaugurations of functions outside the college — all these and more are part of the work schedule.

The students, all requesting anonymity, said they had no option but to obey their principal, Manju Sinha. One of the girls said that faced with a refusal, the principal was ready with the threat: “After all, your character certificate is in my hand.”

But a group of girls did muster the courage to complain to officiating vice-chancellor Anand Bhushan. University spokesperson S.S. Akhtar said the vice-chancellor had called a meeting of college principals on December 2 and told them not to organise any function, on or off campus, without permission. Bhushan confirmed that he had issued such instructions.

“The principals will also have to seek university’s permission before taking college students to a function being held outside the campus by an outside agency. The university will use its discretion in giving permission to functions on the basis of their connection with studies and also ensure that no student is compelled to participate in a function against his/her will,” the vice-chancellor said.

But Sinha denied that students in her college were being harassed. She said the issue was being blown out of proportion and the number of functions exaggerated. “Before holding any function, we have taken permission from the university and no girl has ever been compelled to participate or act as volunteer in any function,” the principal insisted.

The girls rattled off a list of the functions they had been forced to attend. During the inauguration of a fast-track court on November 15, the students had to perform a dance.

For the inauguration of a central library at Ranchi College, the girls played hostesses. When Union ministers Uma Bharti and Yashwant Sinha visited the state, the girls were taken to the airport to welcome them. At the dinner followed by statehood celebrations on November 18, they doubled as “waitresses”.

During the ministers’ visit to the college on November 27, they served them tea and waited for their principal’s orders when they should have been taking examinations.

No week passes without one or two functions, the students underlined. They said they would not mind so long as the functions had some academic purpose and were organised once in a while.

And that, too, not at the cost of precious study periods. “Each time there is a function somewhere, we are asked to either play hostesses or entertain the guests,” said a student from the Science Block.

“Why is the role of ushers and volunteers left for a helpless lot of girl students' What are we supposed to do here in the college, pursue our studies or entertain the chief guests on every worthless occasion'” she asked.

“On denying or showing reluctance to participate, we are often threatened with dire consequences,” a final year student added.

“So far as functions at the college are concerned, there is no problem but taking girls outside the campus is highly objectionable.The way we have been asked to be ready for certain programmes has forced us to think that we are not students but extras of a film unit who can be taken for granted for entertaining guests at different functions,” said a student.

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