The ragging-triggered suicide of M Rushikeshwari, a first-year student of architecture at Achraya Nagarjuna University’s (ANU’s) School of Architecture and Planning, has come at time when the university has been hoping to emerge as a major centre of learning in the proximity of the state’s upcoming capital, Amaravati.
The university, named after the great Buddhist philosopher Acharya Nagarjuna and located in the capital region on the Guntur-Vijayawada national highway, has been gaining prominence steadily over the years.
It has 39 departments, 10 faculties and 66 courses of study with jurisdiction of 326 affiliated colleges in Guntur and Prakasam districts.
But the university has been facing flak for its response to issues relating to safety and harassment and on-campus regulation of students.
To start with, ANU has had no full time Vice-Chancellor since Prof. K. Viyanna Rao demitted office in April. Since then, rector K.R.S. Sambasiva Rao has been holding fort. In the absence of a regular V-C, several administrative and policy decisions have been put on the back-burner.
Secondly, teaching and non-teaching staff do not stay on campus after working hours. In spite of having residential quarters on campus, staff have always preferred to live in Vijayawada or Guntur.
“With the staff going away in the evenings, the campus becomes a free-for-all. Some students have taken advantage of this and indulge in indecent acts on campus. The wardens too leave campus by 6 pm and there is no one to keep any eye on students. The watchmen are too old and cannot do anything to prevent indecent acts,’’ said one professor.
When the university decided to expand and start new professional colleges in 2008, the authorities did not anticipate the challenge of administering about 10,000 students sharing the same campus with PG students and research scholars.
``Students who join professional courses at the undergrad level are young and their mental state is different from a PG or a research scholar. Students who have studied in residential campuses suddenly find themselves in an open atmosphere with no one watching over them. It requires a different approach to deal with such students,’’ said former registrar G. Prasad.
Since Rushikeshwari’s death, the university has decided to revamp its hostel administration. ``We will appoint resident wardens, introduce biometric attendance and install CCTV cameras in the hostels. We will appoint private security personnel to keep a watch on students,’’ said in-charge vice-chancellor K.R.S Sambasiva Rao.