The Voices Campus Safety Survey
In the light of recent security breaches inside the campus, Voices conducted a survey to elicit the opinion of the campus community on the state of safety in the Institute.
We received a total of 252 responses. Considering the overall student strength, the number of participants does form a small fraction. However, we hope that those who have faced security related issues on campus or are most concerned about the state of safety in the campus got an opportunity to voice their opinion. The respondents included the entire gamut of campus dwellers ranging from students, project assistants, faculty and non-teaching staff to post-docs.
We present below a summary of the results of the survey. We believe that the results will enable the Institute administration to take cognizance of places or times that need immediate and permanent measures to improve the security, and we hope that these measures are implemented by the concerned authorities at the earliest.
1) You are a:
We observe that a sizable chunk of the respondents (~ 85%) are students. This is to be expected since the primary target audience for Voices is the student community.
2) What is your name?
This was an optional question to ensure the anonymity of those who wished to remain anonymous. However, we will reveal that of all those who decided to answer this question, no two people had the same name.
3) Do you feel the campus is safe in general?
As we mentioned earlier, the number of respondents form just a fraction of campus community. However, we believe that when 32% (80 votes out of 252) say that they do not feel that the campus is safe, it is time to believe that things could be better.
Of course, the recent events might have made their presence felt at the back of the minds of some of the voters and created a slight bias towards the ‘NO’ button.
4) Rate the following times of the day in terms of their safety, according to you, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 corresponds to most safe.
Safety on campus seems to go down along with the sun. Mornings and afternoons were deemed most safe and the safety rating dips down steadily as the day progresses further, with the time slot of 12 midnight to 6 am receiving an abysmal safety rating of 2.5 out of 5. The personal accounts by respondents also revealed that most of the incidents happened after evening hours. Clearly, we are one Batman short on campus.
5) Which of the following time slots do you use for commuting?
Clearly, there are researchers who prefer to work in the night (for various reasons). Although the number of people who commute in the night time is lower, 68 is still a sizable number and a safety rating of 2.5 out of 5 for the time slot of 12 midnight to 6 am should be deemed unsatisfactory.
6) Rate the following campus gates according to the leniency adopted in the security checking while entering the campus, in a scale of 1 to 5, (For example, vehicles are not stopped even if they do not have institute labels, pedestrians are not asked for ID cards, etc.), where, 1 corresponds to most ineffective security checking.
How many times have you entered the campus and wondered how easy it is for outsiders to utter the secret password “student” and enter? The results indicate that ATM Gate and the Maramma Temple Gate have strictest checking and the gate near A-mess and the gate near Kendriya Vidyalaya received the lowest score and are by a significant margin, the most lenient gates of the campus.
7) Which areas in the campus, according to you, need significant improvement in security measures with immediate effect?
We observe that the three primary areas of campus that seem to require a serious security beef-up are the road from the new Biological Sciences building to Faculty Club, the road from Centenary Visitors’ House to Janta Bazaar – both inevitably accessed by a large number of campus residents, and the Swimming Pool and nearby areas including Jubilee Garden. Accounts of personal incidents faced by some respondents confirm that these areas are not as safe as they should be.
8) Who would you contact in case of an unlikely security breach in the campus, directed towards you?
We see that apart from friends, the security establishment is the main “go-to person” for most of the students who face such issues on campus. In view of this, it is imperative that the security personnel employ as friendly and supportive an attitude as possible towards the student community.
9) Have you faced, or, do you know anyone who has faced untoward remarks or any form of eve-teasing within the campus?
It was pointed out that Question 1 showed an alarming trend with 32% (80 votes) answering that the campus is not safe. Question 9 should raise further concerns. A 36% percent of the respondents (91 votes) said that they have either faced or know someone who has faced untoward incidents within the campus.
10) What are the places in the campus where the street lighting needs to be improved with immediate effect?
We understand that it is impossible to ensure that every part of campus is well lit. However, it would do a world of good to see to it that the pathways that are frequently used by residents are sufficiently lit. Areas like the bicycle pathway behind JN Tata’s statue, motorists’ way from the new Biological Sciences building to Faculty Club and the road from Gymkhana to PD block received close to 130 votes each which is more than half of the total number of respondents (252). Clearly these roads are frequently used and a large majority of those who use the road feel that it could do with a bit more illumination.
11) Have you, or do you know anyone who has ever lodged an official complaint about any incident involving security breach in the campus? If yes, are you aware of any measures taken to address the complaint?
Of all the questions, this one threw up the most unexpected result. 76 people responded that they have or know someone who has filed an official complaint about any incident involving security breach in campus.
We expected that only those who answered in the affirmative for the first question would go on to answer the second question. However, there was no check in the survey and we found that the number of people who responded to the second question was greater than the number of people who answered in the affirmative for the first question. It is to be noted that only 28 people responded that they are aware of any measures taken to address the complaint. Again, not encouraging.
Q12. According to you, what would be the most effective measure to improve security in the campus?
211 votes (~ 83%) are in favour of strict checking of identity at the gates. If the administration is going to take this up, then Question 6 made it obvious which gates need attention. Only the ATM gate and Maramma Circle gate got a high rating on the efficiency with which checking is conducted and the gate near A-mess and KV gate fared most poorly with both of them receiving a rating below 2.
If statistics are not enough to convince the reader regarding the need for action, we have reproduced below some personal accounts by the survey respondents.
There was a field where one could anonymously mention any incident faced and the location where it occurred.
“I was on my way with my friends to mess in the night. Some mongers started chasing and passing comments. I have seen them quite a number of times near Faculty Club, supposedly people other than students staying inside campus.”
“A couple of times in the evenings between ~ 6 pm close to D-gate: have experienced unwelcome remarks”
“Near Janta Bazaar, @late night. There is always a gang of youth with a few bikes, standing near the Janta Bazaar. They do pass remarks at passing-by people.”
“1. About six months ago, some guys on two bikes shouted untoward remakes to a female colleague on the Janta Bazaar-Centenary Guest House road.
2. Last year, a group of construction workers passed comments at me near Fac. Club.”
“I have observed outsiders harassing institute community especially during dinner timings on the way from Centenary Visitors’ House gate to Janta Bazar. In fact, two of my batch mates (girls) were victims of these harassments. About a month back, a girl from 2013 batch was literally harassed physically around 5:00 pm near IPC department on the way to the subway joining main campus with the JN TATA Auditorium side; a motor cyclist took his bike near to the girl and an idiot sitting behind touched her and uttered bad remarks at her because of which, she was under shock for some time. Another major problematic place in the institute is the Faculty Club – please visit the place after 10 in the night, you will find so many drunken monkeys harassing students irrespective of gender.”
“I was changing in the swimming pool changing room when I saw a cell phone near the window. A photograph was taken as evidenced by a flash. By the time I ran out, the perpetrator had vanished. The security office was incredibly unhelpful. However, Savithri Ma’am and Siddhartha Sarma took immediate action and curtains were put up at the windows by the next day.”
The results clearly indicate that the campus is not as safe as some of us would like to believe. While it is unrealistic to expect that the entire campus be turned into a fortress, it is reasonable to expect that some action be taken to ensure that the security is beefed up significantly in the areas where security breaches have been reported frequently. The road from the new Biological Sciences building to the Faculty Club and that from Janta Bazaar to Centenary Visitors’ House feature prominently in the personal accounts. We understand that implementation of Draconian laws is not practical but clearly more than half of the respondents desire a decrease in the leniency with which people are allowed into the campus at various gates. We hope that this survey enables the administration to take cognizance of the views of campus community on the state of security on campus and come up with actions to address them.