Dear Pakistani universities, you cannot disrespect your students by infantilising them

Published: May 16, 2017

Students from various universities discuss sexual harassment at educational institutions and the legislation dealing with it. PHOTO: NSF KARACHI FACEBOOK PAGE

We, the educated citizens of Pakistan, are concerned about the administrators of various universities and their obsession with the private social lives of their students, especially with regard to their inter-gender interactions. We are hereby compelled to issue the following notice, to address this disturbing phenomenon.

To all university deans, chancellors, proctors, wardens, and administration officials,

We thank you for upholding our long-valued tradition of lovingly blurring the line between an educator and a parent. In the light of the socio-political advances made over the past few decades, this paternalistic tradition has not only been rendered moot, but has become outright obnoxious.

Parts of your campuses are veritable petri dishes for religious extremism; where narrow-mindedness and intolerance for all that is unilaterally deemed insufficiently Islamic, is aggressively fomented. Your campuses have become sites of regular disruptions of harmless cultural festivals, hooliganism, vandalism, and even mob lynching.

Even though you are afflicted with a constellation of grave problems, ranging from sectarian violence to abysmal academic performances, you have chosen to focus your administrative energies at the most trivial aspects of university life, such as the issue of boys talking to girls, or vice versa.

Please be aware that your “boys” and “girls” are not kindergarten pupils. They are adult citizens of Pakistan. Many of your “boys” are old enough to vote for a woman in a general election, but by your assessment, not old enough to decide whether to talk to a female student on campus. You are respectfully reminded that not all inter-gender interactions are sexual or “indecent” in nature, as young adults are not merely walking bags of testosterone or estrogen.

In case you feel morally obliged to crackdown on indecent activities in your universities, may I recommend you spend less time counting the number of girls on each bed in your dorm rooms, and more time investigating complaints of sexual harassment by male teachers? By our knowledge, the harassment of female students by male faculty members, and the protection of male students who harass their female colleagues, is a problem far greater than any consensual social interaction between a man and a woman outside the cafeteria.

Equally alarming is your fixation with how your female students dress. We have noticed, to our consternation, your outdated and patriarchal views regarding women’s clothing. Please take note of the fact that these are ‘adult women’. While it is acceptable for university campuses to have some kind of dress code, over-exuberant regulation of women’s clothing in line with your own conservative standard, is a serious violation of the students’ personal liberty.

A university is a not just a school with bigger books. Your students are legal adults. By tightly monitoring and controlling nearly every aspect of your students’ lives like babies left at a daycare center, you are denying them a safe space to explore their new adulthood.

You cannot consistently treat your pupils like children, and complain that they act like children. You cannot disrespect your adult students by stripping them of their basic social liberties, and complain that they aren’t respecting you back.

You are hereby strictly prohibited from infantilising your students, subjecting them to invasive monitoring, and enacting sexist campus rules. All violators will be punished by having their notices displayed online, and having their universities being shamed and ridiculed on the internet for a minimum of 40 days.

We thank you for your compliance.


21st Century

Should universities be allowed to impose a strict dress code on campus?

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Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • creativeIndian

    I think they should just focus on quran and hadith that’s it.Recommend

  • Umair Khan

    Well said. Just people with insecurities hiding behind religion still impose these stupid things over others. As if they are owners of these children and they are paying them and not their families. What a sick minded society.Recommend

  • Abdul moiz

    I Don’t know about others, but i am a walking bag of testosterone … but that should not be a reason or justification for this absurd policing of students

    University Campuses have become a testing ground and an exhibit of how our society will be if popularly held religious and cultural beliefs are imposed across the board

    And the Result is evident .. Oppression, Herd Mentality,hooliganism,Lynching and Infantilising.Recommend

  • Fizza Malik

    Voice of every student. This issue should be raised as colleges and universities have a mind set that they own our lives and choices and we are answerable to them for our every action. Our parents are our responsible not you. Another view point is also mention able that many students misuse freedom and create universities into dating hubs and some parents fear to send their children to such universities because of it. Universities should maintain a good environment but that does not allow the authorities to generalize students and create difficulties for them to interact with each other. Such prohibitions create more charm for teenagers to communicate to opposite gender. Another view I would like to notify is that its an individual’s act, and it does not depend on opportunities they get, they will do what they have to in any circumstances, no matter how many restrictions are their, and the ones who do not want to indulge in such activities will never in whatever situation they are. No one has the right to judge or criticize.Recommend

  • Fizza Malik

    An Islamic environment can be maintained with making students learn manners not by force.Recommend