Seven contestants vying for the coveted presidential post have underlined the need to improve facilities for women's safety inside JNU. This comes against the backdrop of two JNUSU office bearers stepping down from their posts following a sexual harassment complaint against them with the university's gender sensitisation wing last month.
"It was for the first time in the history of JNU that students' union members were named in a sexual harassment complaint. Although, the two stepped down from their posts, they are still a part of the student organisation," says V Lenin Kumar, leader of Democratic Students' Federation (DSF) and former JNUSU President.
DSF, which has forged an alliance with the left-wing AISF and Students for Social Justice under the umbrella 'Left Progressive Front', aims to give more autonomy to the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH).
One of the students' representatives in the GSCASH is an SFI member and the party aims to have more counsellors and push for creation of a democratic atmosphere for complainants. The left front also wants to address the issue of lack of hostels facilities by pushing for alternative accommodation if its nominee Rahila Perween, the only female candidate in the presidential race is voted for.
Women's safety also figures in the election agenda of the All India Students Association (AISA), which had swept the union elections last year. "We think there is a need to regularise institutional mechanisms like orientation programmes and compulsory lecture modules for sensitisation on gender issues," said a statement released by AISA.