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St Stephen's debates teacher remark on co-ed hostels

CNN-IBN
Aug 07, 2008 at 06:04pm IST

New Delhi: It seems for Delhi University's St Stephen's college bad press is not going to stop for a while.

The acting principal of St Stephen's college, Dr M S Frank, told the college magazine that if St Stephen's sets up a co-educational hostel, it would have to set up maternity wards as well.

His remark implied that girls and boys do little else except make babies.

Not surprisingly, staff and students alike are outraged at the comment, prompting Dr Frank to claim later he'd made the remarks in 'light humour'.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Salman Khurshid, a former Stephenian himself says co-ed hostels will eventually come into being in India. However, he says it will take time for the majority to accept this.

"15 years ago, similar talks in Oxford received similar feedback. Later the college went ahead and opened a co-ed hostel. This will happen here too," he said.

However, he added that caution needed to be exercised to go ahead with the idea. He stated that it was important to move with the world and though there was nothing wrong with the idea, it would take time for people who are brought up in a certain culture to adopt it.

Previous Embarrassments

Just last month, St Stephens teachers boycotted the first day of the college year and didn't even assist freshers in filling up the registration forms.

All the teachers including eight Head of Departments were protesting against a quota for Christians in faculty recruitment. The decision to create the quota was taken by Dr Frank, who refused to rescind it. The college administration says the decision can only be reviewed after two and half months. Candidates hired under the quota can therefore continue to teach until then.

"HoDs went to Dr Frank to plead with him to reconsider his decision. But all those things went in vain as he did not budge," HoD Sanskrit and Hindi, Ashutosh Mathur said.

Faculty members are angered by the arbitrary manner in which the quota was implemented, without the consent of the governing body.

Even students are skeptical about teachers chosen on the basis of religion and not merit.

A couple of months before this, there was a big hue-and-cry over the appointment of Reverend Valsan Thampu as Officer on Special Duty at St Stephen's college, which was being considered illegal on many counts by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

In an affidavit before the Commission, the Delhi University declared Thampu's appointment as illegal.

A High Court order in March finally ordered Delhi University and St Stephens' supreme council to strictly adhere to the ordinances of the University Grants Commission - which required Thampu to hold a PhD degree in a recognised subject.

He finally resigned from his post on March 18 this year.

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