Editorial – An Insecure Campus
Whether one feels insecure about the future, about themselves, or of anything in particular, feeling insecure, it could be said, is a part and parcel of life. So, a statement to the effect that the denizens of this campus are feeling insecure will probably not raise any eyebrows. But the fact that the insecurity we refer to here, is of the campus being unsafe, makes this a cause for concern.
When, as part of a survey, Voices asked its readers whether they felt the campus was secure, nearly 30% of the respondents said, “No”. The people who participated in the survey only represent a little over one-tenth of the campus population. But, this survey was not limited to just students. Participants of the survey included faculty and staff as well. That 30% of this random sample of the campus populace, spanning all cadres, feels that the campus is not a secure place to be in, is a cause for alarm. This figure is even more startling when one takes into account that the campus of the Indian Institute of Science is enclosed and the various gates on its periphery are policed by the security guards employed by the campus.
The security which is in place on our campus has shown itself to be inadequate to the task of keeping the campus secure. Security guards at the hostels and departments are seen sleeping blissfully, or even leaving their posts unattended, thus transferring the responsibility of security to the students/residents themselves. Often, the security guards at a few of the gates to the institute allow people to enter or exit the campus unchallenged. Even if they do try to verify the identity of the person, they can be, more often than not, easily harassed into allowing one inside. Many areas of the campus are inadequately lit. In the rare event that any miscreants are given chase, if they are well versed with the campus layout, they find themselves with many avenues of escape. There are frequent reports of women facing harassment within the campus, particularly on the roads. The fraction of people who have been caught in this regard seems to be despairingly low. In the light of all this, the results thrown up by the survey are, perhaps, not entirely unexpected. But they can serve as a wakeup call for all of us.
Ensuring that the campus is secure is not a one way street, however. The onus of providing security to the campus lies with the administration, and the responsibility of ensuring that the campus is secure lies with the security. But we, who reside or work in the campus, also have a role to play. Often, crimes go unreported, and so, the perpetrators get away scot-free. We, at Voices, would like to urge our readers to report immediately to the authorities, any untoward incident that has happened to you or that you have witnessed. But the road doesn’t end there. Satisfy yourself that suitable action has been taken by following up with whoever you have complained to. If you feel the actions taken in response to your complaint are not satisfactory, you can approach one of the faculty to help remedy the situation. This issue of Voices gives you a list of faculty you can approach for help if you find yourself in such a situation. Only a concerted and continual effort by everyone, faculty, staff and students, can help expose any fallacies in the existing security system, help remedy them and speedily change the perception that the campus is not safe.
We hope that this issue of Voices, which exclusively addresses the current security situation on campus, will prove to be a first step in the right direction, in making the campus a more secure place to work/reside in.
K. Vijayanth Reddy (ECE/CeNSE)
Editor’s Note: The survey and the interviews featured in this issue were conducted by the Voices team in the months of September – November, 2013.