Engineering gender

A university gone to dogs

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The University of Engineering and Technology Lahore on September 6 issued a notification on behalf of the Vice Chancellor to make separate sitting arrangements for boys and girls in the cafeteria with suitable partition. The students as well as the cafeteria contractors were advised to observe the instructions as the administration might conduct surprise checks and those found not observing instructions shall have to face consequences.

As bizarre as the order was, the university management rescinded the order in a matter of three days saying the earlier order was issued without the approval of the VC.

The same university administration, in March this year, distrusting their students’ ability to choose a suitable attire for themselves had issued a notification that imposed a dress code for its students and Rs5, 000 fine over each violation. The notification had made it mandatory for female students to wear a scarf or dupatta while imposing a ban on sleeveless shirts and capri pants. The measure, it was said, was taken to instill a sense of dressing in the students.

A former education minister in Punjab, representing PMLN, had proposed making hijab compulsory. Not only that, he proposed to incentivize wearing of hijab by offering to give extra marks to those who would stick to wearing a scarf.  Another university made the use of scarf for girls mandatory as the department was in a secluded corner of the campus and many male teachers happened to be around.

In February this year, a university in Faisalabad chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a ‘Sisters’ Day’ by distributing scarves and abayahs among the female students.

Numerous such notifications have made rounds on the social media in the past, each defining their own sense of decency. Some have determined the length of shirts that girls should wear while on the campus, but omitting any mention of sleeves whereas some others, more meticulous among theme, have chosen to talk of how long or short the shirt-sleeves should be.

Education in Pakistan is already in a shambles. One could hardly spot any university in the international rankings. Just the other day, a student was beaten to death for failing to memorise a lesson.  Critical thinking, inquiry and questioning are as alien concepts to us as the aliens themselves.

It is a shame that the UET Lahore that once boasted of being one of the most sought after institutions in the country has come to this. It should rather worry about its fast falling credentials rather than finding faults with co-gatherings.