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Colleges play spoilsport for lovers on campus (IBNLive - Chennai Engineering Colleges)

Shivapriya, a second-year student at a college, had the shock of her life last Friday. The institution’s chairman, through an instruction, had allegedly asked the teachers to warn students against Valentine’s Day celebrations in the college and had put internal marks on the line, if the order was violated.

“I always believed education was to breed a progressive mind. This was just unbelievable,” says the student, who had to shift from Bangalore when she joined the institution.

If you thought picking on couples who celebrate Valentine’s Day was the gimmick of fringe right-wing groups, incidents such as these might warrant a serious reconsideration of the idea.

A number of educational institutions in and around the city, especially engineering colleges, have taken it upon themselves to police the students, arguing that such “indecent acts” cannot be part of an “academic life’ and it would be met with penalties.

Students of four engineering colleges and one arts and science college, two of which belong to the same management, who spoke to City Express on Monday, say that the sermon against celebrations begin a week before the Valentine’s Day, when teachers quote past incidents of students being suspended from classes, or their parents summoned, after they indulged in public displays of affection.

According to one student, who belongs to a popular deemed-to-be university on the outskirts, the instructions include a ban on wearing “red colour” clothes. The students are also asked to ensure attendance on the day and not bunk classes, failing which a strong reason must be provided with necessary evidence, he says.

“If you do not have a medical issue or some strong reason for being absent, they assume that youý bunked classes and were celebrating Valentine’s Day. They then call the parents for an explanation,” he says, adding that seven students were pulled up in his institution last year. Vigilance in the hostel has also been tightened to thwart any party, they say. ý

However, some colleges take a liberal viewpoint and tell the students to avoid it during college hours. “This is a personal issue and should not be mixed with academics. What we tell them is not to do any such things during college hours because that usually leads to skirmishes between students, which are undesirable,” says Dr M Ponnavaikko, Vice-Chancellor of SRM UniversityFree Web Content, adding that his own institution has seen such incidents in the past.

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Ramya, a consultant from Chennai.

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