Yashika, a postgraduate student at Panjab University finally managed to secure a hostel room for herself yesterday, March 21, after 9 months of relentless self-advocacy. The reason being that she was a trans-person and the university had no clear guidelines on how to accommodate trans students.
“I am happy that the PU has finally shown some inclusiveness and sensitivity by allotting a room to me. This is just the first step and I would request the university to have a separate housing facility for transgender [people]. They should be gender-sensitive,” Yashika said in an interview to Indian Express.
The road to securing accommodation has not been easy for her. Yashika said in an interview: “I have been demanding a hostel room since October last year. Even though my classes have resumed in physical mode, I don’t have permanent lodging despite being on the merit list.”
The process for an average student to get a hostel room allotted is as simple as going to the admin office and filling out the paperwork. However, for Yashika it took approaching multiple higher authorities like the Vice-Chancellor, Dean of Student Welfare, and Registrar of the university, Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and even the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for months straight.
All this while her physical classes continued. Important point to note here is that Yashika hails from Saharanpur, which is in West Uttar Pradesh, and she is not native to Panjab.
Initially, the university was directed to form a committee to look into the matter, but when nothing happened for months Yashika took to protesting outside the VC’s office starting the 15th of March. Her endeavor was supported by a few student groups like the Punjab Feminist Union.
Post this show of agitation, a room has been allotted to Yashika. “As per the recommendation of a committee, one room in Faculty House, near the Working Women’s Hostel, Sector- 14, Panjab University is allocated to Yashika, with normal hostel charges as per university rules,” read an official release of the Panjab University.
This goes to show how systemic issues threaten the safety of young trans-folx and keep them from accessing spaces of higher education.