Student Mistreatment And Gender Segregation At Mashad’s Ferdowsi University
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has been informed that with the start of the new academic term and enrollment period at Mashad’s Ferdowsi University’s Department of Engineering, in addition to the increased restrictions forced on students, unprecedented gender segregation has been imposed on more than 49 general and laboratory courses.
The disciplinary restrictions imposed on students, particularly female students, have been on the rise since June 2009, in many cases accompanied with insults and degradation of students. In addition to limitations imposed on student associations and student activities, the University’s Disciplinary Committee, headed by Hessam Ghapanchi, has added to the security atmosphere of the university through notices, written warnings, and in some cases education ban rulings for women who, according to University Security and police officials, have worn “un-Islamic,” and “disgraceful” clothing. Last year, several Industrial Engineering students from this university were banned from education because of participating in a co-ed out-of-town camp on a weekend. Even if the camp was not held on a weekend and out of town, the Disciplinary Procedures Manual of the University does not stipulate holding or participating in co-ed camps as illegal.
Over the past three academic terms, more than 15 disciplinary rulings have been issued for female students due to “lack of observation of hejab.” The University Police vehicles routinely make the rounds around the campus, issuing repeated notices and threats on students and compiling long lists for the Disciplinary Committee. According to students, Alireza Ashouri, the University Chancellor, and Mojtaba Tahmourespour, Assistant Chancellor of Student Affairs, have played an important role in the new developments. Several students had previously told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the security forces and their agents who surround the University have all but eliminated the possibility of any activities deemed unfavorable by the government, leading to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, where students fear that any activity may cause their dismissal or even arrest. According to students, the university authorities not only do not object to the presence of intelligence forces, they act in complete unison with them.
Last year, 50 disciplinary rulings including written reprimands and notices, education bans, and dismissals related to the post-election political protests and student gatherings on 4 November 2009, 7 December 2009, and Ayatollah Montazeri’s memorial ceremonies were issued. Critical student publications such as Jaj, Risheh, Shabtab, and Simia were banned. Several students were also “starred” at the graduate school entrance stage.
Gender segregation is now in operation for 49 courses inside the University’s College of Engineering. Last term, only some of the general education courses such as General Math and Physics had been subjected to gender segregation, but during the current term a wide array of engineering courses have also been segregated.