Riddhi Verma, UG 22 Politics took many forms on the night of 6th February. The debate
Rohini Sharma, Class of 2020
Zainab G. Firdausi, Class of 2019
In a town-hall held on 25 September, the Vice-Chancellor, in the presence of other senior members of the administration, informed the undergraduate student body about the institution of a curfew restricting student movement in and out of campus at night, starting from the first week of October.
The exact timings of the curfew are yet to be made official, but entry and exit are likely to be restricted from 12 am to 6 am. The document enlisting the details of and the exceptions to this rule is in process of being drafted by members of the administration. They will be communicated to the student body by the following week.
The curfew is being imposed in order to deter students from visiting establishments outside campus which serve alcohol illegally. The Vice-Chancellor took the occasion to explicate the reasons which forced the administration to take such a drastic step: safety of students and condemnation of a culture which promotes substance abuse and peer pressure.
Dr. Mehta, in his address, alleged that the students possess a “deeply ingrained culture of entitlement” with respect to matters of underage drinking and substance abuse. He claimed,“(students) are violating the law yet (they) are asking for police protection”. The administration reports that after their assessment of the risk students take by partaking in such activities, they were forced to take this measure.
Lastly, Dr. Mehta stressed another form of risk that has also arisen but lies within the four walls of the campus: peer pressure. Students have approached members of the administration and faculty because they have felt “disempowered”, “suffocated”, and “silenced” for not conforming to social standards in matters of substance and alcohol intake. He stressed on the possibility of violence ensuing and creation of an intimidating environment due to the consumption of alcohol and narcotics. He further suggested that there is an urgent need for students to initiate honest peer-to-peer communication about issues such as these and to move away from the culture of silencing others.
Student Government President Condemns Decision-Making Process
After Dr. Mehta concluded his address, student government president Arush Pande addressed the gathering. He asserted that although he agrees with the Vice Chancellor’s arguments, he disagrees with the manner in which the rule is being implemented and “on behalf of the Student Government, (he is) completely against the imposition of the curfew”. He argued that everything that was discussed in the town-hall should have been discussed earlier with the student body being given a more important role in the decision-making process. A number of other students echoed Arush’s concerns and brought forth deficiencies in the method of communication of the administration.
But there also existed differing points of view. For instance, another student asserted,“the administration has been adequate in communicating to the students the intolerance of the university towards the usage and possession of alcohol and drugs”, and “those who break the law regularly ‘have the audacity to stand in front of the same administration that has not just adjusted with their habits but also protected them from the repercussions’”.
The Student Government held an open meeting on the 26th of September to discuss the next steps that the student body must take in response to the curfew.
Flying Squad seizes illegally smuggled alcohol in Sonepat
The imposition of this curfew is especially relevant, since, on 16 September Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s flying squad seized “648 halves of different liquor brands, a tank filled with 500 litre of liquor, empty stock of 630 bottles, 2,100 halves and eight bags of empty quarters, a large stock of sealing machine and rolls, labels, covers and other material from a bottling plant from Baiyanpur village in the district”.
The discovery of empty bottles, sealed machines, and labels confirm suspicions that a lot of the alcohol served at these illegal establishments might be adulterated. Spiked alcohol has long-term negative health effects. Eg., Methanol (a very popular off-brand liquor which is sold illegally) can cause blindness.
This crackdown comes after a party in Sonepat involving drugs and alcohol was recently raided by the same flying squad.
This article has been edited since publication for clarity.