University life a mockery...
Vol XXVI NO. 296 Saturday 10 January 2004
By Amira Al Hussaini
BAHRAIN University students are being treated like kindergarten children. No, I am not exaggerating. It hurts me as a graduate to lash out at the institution I spent the best five years of my life in, but the recent developments and draconian rules imposed on its students can make the most rational people lose their cool.
It is as if all the 19,000 students on campus have no families to see that they are in line and that they respect the society they are in.
The campus has turned into a junior school, where students are not free to decide on what to wear, who to hang out with and what courses to study or not.
Boys and girls cannot sit together or walk together, let alone engage in a meaningful civil conversation.
Three of my friends have had to leave the university and opt for other education opportunities after the constant harassment from 'security' personnel employed on campus to police the students and check on what they wear.
Skirts, jeans and T-shirts are out of question and long drapes and baggy clothing are in.
When I was a student, I would go to the campus wearing jeans and a T-shirt and this did not stop me from topping my class and achieving a coveted prize for my outstanding academic performance.
However, the tables have now turned at Bahrain University and to be accepted as a female student, you have to lose your identity and blend with the masses.
Many girls, including my 18-year-old sister, have opted to wear the Abaya when going to college to escape the harassment of the so-called campus police.
What century are we living in? How can we expect those young men and women to have a say in their future if they don't have a say in what they wear.
How can we claim that we are living in an era of freedom and reform when a whole new young generation is given long lists of DON'Ts which they have to abide to every living moment?
The latest new law says that no female student can enter or leave the campus in the company of a man, unless he is related to her - that is, he should be her father, brother or husband.
This means that parents have to either buy their children cars for them to be able to drive to and from university alone and perhaps contribute to the soaring number of accidents or leave their jobs and other obligations and drive their children all the way to Sakhir everyday.
The other option is to use the university transportation system, which means that students will have to leave their homes at 7am and return after sunset for the sake of two or three hours of classes daily.
The idea that a whole young generation is being herded like cattle in our national institution of education is frightening.
That there are new rules and regulations that make simple everyday human engagements taboo is despicable.
Those young people are the future of Bahrain. They have to be given freedom to study and become creative and shoulder the responsibility with us. They should be given the freedom of choice to thrive, build their personalities and take their first independent steps towards the futures which await them.
We should take their hands and guide them down the right path and not impose rules on them and mould them into unrecognisable beings with no personalities or characters of their own.
The only reason I am who I am today is because of the trust and freedom my parents gave me.
Because my family trusted me when they left me alone on campus, I learned how to weigh the rights and wrongs of life. I learned to make my own decisions and when I was wrong, I learned to face the consequences of my ill judgements. I also learned how to stand up for my rights and what I believe in. I learned all this and more during my formative years at Bahrain University.
What will my sister and her generation - who are shackled by laws and under the constant surveillance of the campus police - learn?
What will they do tomorrow when they start working and climbing up the career ladder?
Will there be campus police to check on them?