Monday, 5 May 2008

Burning the midnight oil, Sherubtse-style

If you happen to pass through Sherubtse College in Kanglung at night, you are likely to come across a group of men wielding torches.

They are Sherubtse’s night patrol or LOD (lecturers on duty). Calling themselves the special security guardians, a group of Sherubtse lecturers have got together and volunteered to maintain order in and around the country’s premier institute of learning.

After 8:30 pm during weekdays and 10:30 pm on weekends, when students are supposed to be back in their hostels, a group of three to four lecturers fan out in different directions, piercing the dark spots with torch light for unwanted activities.

Officiating director, Dr Shivaraj Bhattarai, told Kuensel that the special security started with two reasons: to prevent external threats and to check disciplinary problems. “It’s not just to monitor regular college students, but also against local lads, schools dropouts and former college students, who loiter around the college,” he said.

In the past, provosts made inspections of the hostels but only occasionally monitored around and outside the campus. The “LOD”, as the college students call it, went up to midnight and even 1:00 am at times.

Students, initially, did not welcome the LOD patrol.

Many did not like the idea of being under lecturers’ eyes around the clock. Some said they were being treated like “high school students”. “We need their help but not always. We know what’s best for us,” said a business administration student.

Lecturers, Kuensel spoke to, say that it is not a replication of stringent high school rules but an effort to help students settle down and to maintain an atmosphere that would help them study. “We’re not policing here. We’re doing our duty as academicians,” said an economics lecturer. “We’d like students to use their time properly.”

Another lecturer said that their monitoring began only after 8:30 pm, which was obviously late hours for students to go out. “We’re certain that they do the same back home,” said the lecturer.

If students are found moving outside campus, they are asked for an explanation and given counselling. If need be, students are put into a vehicle and dropped to their respective hostels.

The dean of student affairs, Tshering Wangdi, said that the routine had been very effective and had almost brought disciplinary problems to a halt. “W’re not imposing unnecessary rules, but simply checking if any students are creating problems which affects other students,” he said. Meanwhile, people in the vicinity of the college are all for LOD. Many said the place had become more peaceful compared to the past.

“College students used to disturb us by shouting and making noises at night,” said Ugyen, a grocery shopkeeper. “There used to be awkward moments when we went out and came across college couples. Now the place has suddenly become more decent and quiet.”

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