Thursday, September 26, 2013

[Social Eye] Clarity: The rector answers back...

As I came out of the auditorium, where only a few moments ago the rector of NUST Dr. Muhammad Asghar had addressed the student body of the troubled university, my previous post seemed eerily out of place. In that post, I had talked about how NUST is sinking into the mire of gender segregation and talibanization. As it turned out. I was wrong, along with many other students like me who were covertly coerced into making a whole lot of fuss about nothing. Pakistan's media didn't help either.

Throughout the address, Dr. Asghar, struck me as a man who knows what he is doing. He is ideologically similar to most of us youngsters in the aspect of weaving quite intricate conspiracy theories. Apart from that he is concise and talks sense.

The awesome rector of NUST who is a proponent of quite appealing conspiracy theories
like 5th Generation Warfare and pseudo-revolutions.
In a well-crafted speech, he let the facts do the talking and did an excellent job in quelling rumors and suppressing all the anti-NUST sentiment around.

The decision of separating cafeterias beyond dusk was (although not totally as evidenced by the hell load of CCTV cameras around which gives the cafes a semblance of Splinter Cell) an administrative one. Due to the large influx of students this year, the girls themselves had requested the rector to do something about the acute shortage of seating space in the cafetieres. So, the rector responded and reserved C1 for females and C2 for males beyond 5:00 p.m. A decision which was painted in the wrong light by both the student body and the media.

The hullabaloo that followed a viral notice was also dealt with by the rector. The notice, which originated from NUST Business School (NBS), had a listing of students fined for certain offenses: from not wearing a dupatta to wearing jeans or eating in the lab. It instigated quite a storm of verbal retaliation from the students as they feared NUST turning into a despotic monster which would fine you for wearing what you desired. This news was picked up and reported by esteemed dailies like Dawn and The Express Tribune, bloggers went crazy, tweeters couldn't control themselves and Facebook was studded with NUST memes. The result? NUST started losing repute as the clothing fiasco boiled over in the furnace of a nationwide, heated debate.

The notice that caused all this furor.
Ironically, everyone got it wrong. NBS is the only school in NUST which enforces a dress code, since its inception, for its student's own corporate presentability. The students of NBS, when they signed up, were made aware of this both in the prospectus and on orientation. The dress code was to be: a shirt, dress pants and tie for boys and shalwar-kameez with dupatta for girls. Meanwhile, people in the rest of the schools dress as they please with no restrictions whatsoever. Except for, as the rector pointed out in the address, clothing bearing offensive material.

There goes the explanation of two of the major issues trending around NUST and Pakistan's universities as a whole. NUST, is and will remain Pakistan's top university with a great student environment, excellent campus and facilities. Despite the fact that this media campaign to malign NUST's name and some quite abysmal professors drag it down. More on the latter part later.

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