Moral Policing at Grant medical college: Dean falls under DMER's radar
Mumbai: The Dean and senior faculty at JJ Hospital’s Grant Medical College have fallen under the radar of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) on the grounds of “moral policing” and being absent from important college events.
An inquiry committee appointed by the DMER to look into the moral policing issue which escalated following the much controversial enforcement of dress code; stated that the dean should improve communication and be present for important events organised in the institute.
The dress code order was issued on March 23 by the medical college Dean Dr Ajay Chandanwale and Medical College Campus Hostel Warden Shilpa Patil. Since then there has been chaos at the medical institute. Medical Dialogues had extensively reporting about the same.
The order read that the dress code has to be followed by the students and no shorts or short dress will be allowed. It further stated that girls should come back to the hostel by 10 pm.
The decision to impose this dress code strictly for female MBBS students was taken in pursuance to the Holi event when ruckus and unruly scenes by some youth were witnessed at the reputed medical college campus. Some students had torn each other’s clothes during the Holi festivities.
This decision had however met severe backlash from female medicos.
On March 24, the students protested against what they claimed was an attempt at moral policing by authorities through a diktat asking them not to wear “short skirts” and to sit separately from male counterparts during events. The commotion saw these students wearing ankle length clothes with covered faces showing their resentment.
When asked about the dress code, Dean Dr Chandanwale said, “The expectation from female students is that they dress appropriately. This alone was my message to the students. There was some ruckus during Holi celebrations, so we decided to take strict measures.” However, it has been claimed that the notice was only about shorts, not the female medicos sitting or dancing with male counterparts. The dean claimed that false clauses had been added to the dress code.
Later, condemning the alleged diktat imposed by the Dean, the JJ Hospital Grant Medical College Students’ Association filed a petition with the DMER and the Education Minister, Girish Mahajan.
The medicos were seen complaining that female students are often subjected to verbal abuse, especially those who have protested against the Dean. It was also been alleged by the female medicos that the medical college authorities even created an in-house library so female students didn’t have to step out of the hostel for studies, whereas male students are allowed to roam without any restrictions.
Protesting students alleged that they have been threatened of academic consequences. Another allegation was about “control” of the GMC gymkhana.
In view of the all the complaints and representation received, Dr T Lahane, Director, DMER, formed a three-member committee to study the matter and asked the committee to investigate the students’ claims.
Now with the report in hand, Dr Lahane said that the moral policing and restrictions put on students within the campus must stop.
In a conversation with The Hindu on the inquiry report, Dr Lahane informed, “The report has stated that restrictions put on students with regards to dress code – that used to be prevalent about 40 years ago – must stop. The committee has also stated in its report that restrictions on male and female students sitting or interacting with each other on the campus must stop.”
The warden of the girls' hostel, Dr Shilpa Patil, has been replaced after the committee saw video clips of her interacting with female undergraduate medical students on the subject of "inappropriate dressing". The panel blamed teachers, including the dean, as well as students for "communication gap", said Dr Lahane informed TOI.
Dr Lahane said the dean and students have been asked to work towards reducing their "communication gap". "The dean didn't attend the convocation ceremony or the students' festival. Such opportunities should be used by the dean and teachers to improve communication with students."
"The dean came from BJ Medical College, Pune, three months ago. Mumbai is different from Pune and he tried to create a Pune-like environment without trying to communicate with students about his plans and thought process. The students got worried as a result. If he had communicated with them, the situation would have been different," said Dr Lahane, quoting from the panel's report.