“Men and women are to maintain a distance of at least six inches while sitting/standing together” – Imagine coming across such a notice at institutions or workplaces. You as a youngster might find it senseless and react with a “BLAH!”
Private sector university in Pakistan issues directive to staff to ensure that male and female students are "at least six inches away from each other" pic.twitter.com/BPQlHSqeHU
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) May 18, 2018
Apparently, it all began when a notice by Bahria University’s (BU) director, requiring male and female students to maintain a six-inch distance when sitting or standing near each other was issued. This is not even the worst part though, as the notice also called to enforce a “no touch” policy between male and female students.
This is not the first time this alma-mater has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Earlier, there was a “jeans controversy” a couple of years ago, where wearing jeans was prohibited in the Bahria university.
Deeming this ban to be unfair, scores of students gathered in the campus lobby to protest this policy, chanting “we want jeans”. The ban was ultimately withdrawn with a few new restrictions, but not before the totalitarian regime running the university had kicked the instigators out.
None of this moral policing is unfortunately new in Pakistani institutions as there have been multifarious cases.
Thus, what Bahria University did is not a new addition to the spectrum but is the latest contribution to the already alarming moral policing culture that exists in the country. This time around, it seems the university has completed its transition to a madrassa, for that is what the university comes across as, rather than a modern-day higher education institute. No other institution comes close to having adopted a rule this regressive and medieval in nature, which is precisely why it was immediately picked up by the mainstream media.
A friend who studies at Bahria University Islamabad shared this message received from admin. pic.twitter.com/Wdhbjs5nx6
— Roha Nadeem (@RohaNadym) May 21, 2018
When i see couple in Bahria University pic.twitter.com/OnNcikXNdL
— BAPPA (@mzulkafil) May 20, 2018
Moreover, are the students supposed to carry a measuring tape with them at all times, just to measure the distance they keep with the opposite gender, instead of focusing on their studies?
Guys & Girls have been seen following 6 Inch Rule by Bahria University ?
Remember 6 INCH is Very Important! pic.twitter.com/AG367vsbtx
— Dekhlo (@DekhloTv) May 24, 2018
Perhaps the notice could have entailed, ‘male and female students must respect religious and cultural values at all times’; the intention could have been articulately conveyed in a much more appropriate manner, and there would be no outcry.
Such rules hamper creativity and pave way for batches upon batches of students devoid of free thought, exposure, unable to thrive in the rapidly changing dynamic of a world shaped by science and technology. Students also find themselves unable to work in challenging situations, to think out of the box and be good problem solvers, all owing to the excessively controlled environment they just spent four years in.
Now take inchtap to the university in the month of #Ramazan to have six inches of distance.
Because Bahria University has issued orders that girls must keep distance of 6 inches when sit with boys.
What about standing together in university buses? pic.twitter.com/MTWk1W0oos
— Shama Junejo (@ShamaJunejo) May 18, 2018
Boys after Bahria University's 6 inch scheme be like pic.twitter.com/tzQYyX4flN
— M O I Z (@Aao_chars_pien) May 21, 2018
What’s more alarming is that this absurd policy has dragged the university’s name down the dirt, popularizing it as the “six-inch university”. After getting labelled as students of the ‘six-inch university’, who would hire these students? What will happen to their career placements?
— Mariam Mohammed (@_marmariam) May 25, 2018
Bahria University still living in the bygone era ! https://t.co/nVjC32iMMK
— Dipalay Dey (@dipalay) May 25, 2018
6 Inches Rule by Bahria University has become a laughing stock. Not sure if Bahria University or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft. University clearly took it as inspiration from Educational Decrees created by Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter. #BahriaUniversity
— Inshal Khan (@Inshalkhan) May 19, 2018
— Sami LaiQ (@SamiLaiQ_Uet) May 22, 2018
A visiting lecturer of finance was also critical of the management and believed the matter should be rectified before it gets picked up by the international media, which definitely would not be in the university’s best interests.
Universities cannot operate under such draconian measures. How will these students fare as per global standards, especially when it comes to interaction with people from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, when they have been indoctrinated through ridiculous rules based on gender segregation?
The six-inch rule is the product of rigid, narrow-minded individuals who have no experience in running educational institutions but opted to run a higher education institute. If the administration of an institute is unqualified or incapable of understanding what it takes to run a good university and shape the leaders of the future, all they end up making is a mockery out of our education system.