Aug. 9: Women students of the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) have alleged that they are being harassed by some male employees who have "unrestricted access" to the footage of CCTV cameras installed on the campus.
Residents of the girls' hostel, which is on the same campus as the university, have written to vice-chancellor P. Ishwara Bhat alleging that the male employees were abusing their access to the footage by circulating it among themselves.
The students have mentiioned in their letter that they are being "hounded and harassed" by the staff.
"It's a fact that the women students who at times return to the hostel late at night are being harassed by a section of the staff, including guards," a student of the Bypass law school told Metro.
"Some of the students attend late-night parties and are not entirely sober when they return to the hostel. They often need help to enter the hostel. Such students are being constantly harassed and hounded. The employees are circulating among themselves the footage of the students. They are trying to ascertain the identity of the students so they can get in touch with their parents."
At NUJS, students are allowed to stay out till 11pm. "Women students are being targeted even if they are back by 11," another student told this newspaper.
Students alleged they are victims of "moral policing" and wonder whether the university or the staff could monitor their activities in this manner.
Vice-chancellor Bhat denied the students were being harassed or that their privacy was being violated.
"Students are expected to enter the campus by 11pm. But at times some return to the hostel at 1.30 or 2 in the morning. Some of the students have been identified with the help of footage.... Maintaining discipline on the campus is our utmost concern. We have no other intention. CCTV cameras will remain at the entrance as security tools. The privacy of the students is not being violated," he said today.
The letter to Bhatt, however, expressed concern at the "CCTV regime" and the "many ramifications" for the students.
"Several recent incidents have made it apparent that the security staff and the administration have unrestricted access to the recorded footage.... They are abusing this access by retaining and circulating the footage amongst themselves. Women students are regularly hounded and harassed by the guards, as are their friends who are pushed to identify them....
"Residents of the women's hostel are distressed that they are regularly taunted, abused, singled out and harassed by the very security staff that are entrusted with their safety. These remarks are often sexually-coloured, cruel and intended to assassinate the character of these women."
The students have demanded that the authorities restrict the staff's access to the footage and prepare a CCTV policy.
Responding to the demand, the university has set up a committee comprising faculty members to draft a policy, Bhat said.