While a section of students at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) do not want their campus to be divided, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) BHU students do. After a woman was molested on the campus by unidentified individuals recently, the students allege that the incident happened due to the institute having an open campus. However, whether to facilitate an open or closed campus is an age-old matter that some universities are still grappling with. While many universities cite no problems with open campuses, others’ views are contrary.
IIT BHU’s Arvind Kumar Joshi, a retired professor of Sociology from the varsity, who has served as the Chief Proctor twice, points out the difficulty of making BHU’s campus closed, as there are five different institutes inside its campus. He also states that such incidents indicate security lapses, and addressing those should be focussed on.
Nevertheless, when EdexLive reached out to the heads of other universities across India to understand how campuses are facilitated, it was found that many universities have an open campus. Here’s a glimpse:
Osmania University, Hyderabad, Telangana
Osmania University (OU) has maintained an open campus since 1917, as at that time, the university was located on the outskirts of Hyderabad and commuters were limited, says Vice-Chancellor Prof D Ravinder. “But over the years, the scenario has changed. The commuters have multiplied and the city has expanded. So, we are planning to make it a closed campus very soon,” he adds. Citing that problems of littering and “all kinds of nonsense” were being reported at the varsity almost regularly, the decision to close the gates to outsiders was taken.
“Even now, we have placed a few restrictions. A few areas are restricted to outsiders, and the university remains closed from 8 pm to 6 am for everyone. We have parallel roads from the front and back, but we will facilitate the traffic from the back soon,” Prof Ravinder explains.
Bangalore University, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Vice-Chancellor Prof Jayakara Shetty of Bangalore University (BU) says that a public road from Mysuru passes through the middle of the varsity, due to which, making the campus closed is not an option for them. “But the movement of traffic, including private vehicles and buses, disturbs us,” he adds.
Prof Shetty further points out that since the departments are present on each side of the public road, with the heavy traffic, it becomes increasingly difficult and dangerous for students, parents, staff, and faculty members to cross the roads at regular intervals. “Incidents like thefts have also been reported,” he said. However, he clarified that the university infrastructure is accessible to students only.
Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, Odisha
Fakir Mohan University (FMU) is located amidst villages, and the villagers use the post office and bank located inside the campus, not to mention its roads and other areas on a regular basis. Also, Vice-Chancellor Prof Santosh Tripathy said, “Various roads divide the working and residential campuses, and we have to keep them open as per norms. We also organise education and health tournaments for the villagers, which is our way to contribute to society.”
Prof Tripathy mentions that no seriously problematic incident has ever taken place on the campus. “Sometimes thefts are reported, but it wouldn’t be right to say that outsiders are behind them,” he says.
The VC believes that campuses of higher educational institutes should be open to common people, as very often they feel such places are inaccessible to them. “But the university works for them. They should know what is going on inside,” he says, adding that school and college students are invited to the labs and given the tour of FMU.