Bhopal: College Asks Student Battling Depression To Vacate Hostel For Requesting Week-Long Leave For Treatment
A student who requested medical leave for a week because she was suffering from moderate depressive disorder was arbitrarily asked to vacate the hostel by the administration of the Regional Institute of Education (RIE) Bhopal. A medical certificate was attached to the leave application by the student.
What had happened?
Pinjra Tod, which is a woman-led collective against discriminatory hostel timings, said that the college accused the student of faking her illness and asked her to immediately vacate the college’s Vinay Niketan hostel.
A notification released by the college on March 20 stated that the student “has obtained a false prescription from AIIMS”. The college’s senior resident at the department of psychiatry backed the statement, reported Live Wire.
According to Pinjra Tod, the prescription did not have the countersignature of stamp of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), as a result of which, it was rejected by the administration which added that they had taken the decision “to avoid any unforeseen incident in future”. The oversight, however, was subsequently rectified by AIIMS.
Allegedly, the administration was requested by the student’s father to cancel her suspension. A copy of the patient’s record at AIIMS was also produced by him. Further, the administration was accused by him of acting against the spirit of the Mental Health Act of 1987, which primarily aims to promote, protect and improve citizens’ mental well-being and lives.
The father’s requests, however, were rejected, and the administration further challenged him to take the matter to court. Allegedly, he was threatened that if his daughter did not comply with the said order, she will be denied mess food.
Pinjra Tod said that subsequently, the student was confined in her hostel room. After the administration realised that the certificate submitted by her was legitimate, they called her “loose and characterless”.
“They think that by confining her to her hostel room, they are ‘taking care of her!’ Clearly, the intention is not to take care of her, but suffocate her and create an atmosphere ridden in fear and [un]conducive for accessing a dignified education,” said Pinjra Tod in their statement on Facebook.
Students of Bhopal’s Regional Institute of Education have now geared up for their battle, with over 200 students gathering on the campus on April 9 to seek justice for the student. Angry students from various departments sat under the scorching sun, their faces covered with dupattas.
Enraged, students shouted slogans like ‘nahi warden, nahi bhai, auratein ladegi apni ladai’ (neither warden, neither brother, women will fight for their rights on their own).
Apart from this issue, students also demanded other facilities like water availability throughout the day, a stationery shop with proper photocopy services, a cafeteria on the campus, among others.
However, their concerns were blatantly ignored by the administration, prompting them to spend the night in the college’s basketball court. In fact, the administration threatened to cancel all placement interviews if the students do not call off the protest, reported Live Wire.
“To instil fear among the students, the administration deployed police in the campus but we will continue with the protest until all our demands are met,” a student said.
Female students have alleged that not a single male student has come out in their support and that they are backing the administration’s decision.
Despite the protest going on for as long as 12 hours, the authorities have not only failed to address their concerns, but they went on to threaten the students that if the protest is not called off, their parents will be summoned.
The Logical Indian take
Depression is a deadly illness and is often treated with indifference. Society has a lot to progress when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses. The student suffering from depression was already going through a lot, which was evidently made worse by the school authorities.
Had the student been physically ill, people would certainly have had a different approach towards her. It is harrowing how society still fails to realize that depression is as much a medical condition as a high fever is, even worse. Scores of young people across the country battling depression are afraid to talk about it because of the stigma that surrounds it.
Elders and seniors should extend their support to students suffering from depression at such a young age, however, the college decided to inflict more pain on her. For the country and the world to really progress, it is important that people educate themselves on mental health, become more compassionate and deal with situations rationally.