St.Stephen’s magazine not to edit head’s ‘maternity ward’ remark

August 7th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) Notwithstanding the angry reactions St. Stephen’s college acting head, M.S. Frank, evoked with his remark in an interview to the college magazine that a maternity ward would be needed if a co-educational hostel is set up, the journal’s student editor said no changes in the text or recall of the printed copies was planned. “The magazine is already out and I have not been told by anyone to make any editorial changes in a fresh stock. The magazine continues as usual,” Rijul Kochhar, the student editor of the magazine, told IANS.

Teachers, students and members of the Supreme Council of the college reacted angrily at Frank’s comments in the magazine.

Sunil J. Mathews, advocate, speaking on behalf of the Supreme Council - the custodian of the religious character of the college - dismissed Frank’s comments as “stray”.

“Frank’s comments need not be taken seriously. It was a stray comment,” Mathews told IANS, the irritation clearly evident in his voice.

“The possibility of increasing of Christian quota in the institute, which Frank reportedly said, is also not true,” he added.

St. Stephen’s, one of the country’s premier educational institutes, has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Last month, the college caused a huge furore after two vacancies of the ad hoc teachers in the history department were filled up with Christian candidates, and a non-Christian candidate, who was a gold medallist and an alumni, was rejected for one of the posts.

The development, not taken lightly by the faculty members, resulted in a battle of sorts between the teaching staff and Frank, who made the ad hoc teachers’ appointments. After a lot of media attention and intervention by the Supreme Council, an additional post was created in the department and the non-Christian candidate given his appointment letter.

Hardly a month later, Frank’s remark in the college magazine interview that he would have to open a maternity ward if a co-ed hostel was set up has kicked up another storm.

“How can someone ever think like this? To even think that a senior faculty member’s thinking process and his opinion about us, his students, is like this, is disgusting,” lashed out an angry Tanvi Aggarwal, a second-year student of the college.

Frank, while answering the student interviewer’s question for the college magazine on whether there is a possibility of a co-educational hostel in the future, said such a system would then mean setting up a maternity ward alongside.

He, however, defended his remark later, saying that it was made in a light manner and ought to be taken in the same spirit.

“I have said this before and I again say this - It was a tongue-in-cheek interview and should be taken in the same manner,” Frank said.

But students and teachers are not amused.

“Being a faculty member and the acting head of the college demands certain responsible behaviour. Such statements are very demeaning,” said a teacher on the condition of anonymity.

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