Student with vitiligo asked to leave varsity
Can you believe that headline? Worst of all, it actually happened. Lucky for this university they aren’t located in the United States…the ACLU would be all over this! “Student with vitiligo asked to leave varsity” was the first in a series of 3 updates. I’ve copied them here in order.
MADURAI, July 12, 2012
Student with vitiligo asked to leave varsity
He had secured admission for six-year integrated B. Tech course for speech and hearing impaired
Life has not been an easy journey for 18-year-old P. Ayyappan of Tirunelveli. Born with a hearing impairment, he managed to overcome it to a significant extent through speech therapy.
His childhood dream was to become an engineer. When the Kalasalingam University near Srivilliputtur in Virudhunagar district introduced a pioneering six-year integrated B. Tech course for the speech and hearing impaired in 2007, it brightened his hope of realising his dream. He managed to get admission to the B. Tech course on July 4 and spent a day with his classmates.
The next afternoon, however, the teenager was asked to remain in his hostel room. The university authorities called his parents to say that the parents of other students had objected to their children studying with Ayyappan, because he had vitiligo or patches of white skin on his body.
His mother P. Hemavathi tried in vain to convince the authorities that it was not a contagious disease.
She produced a medical certificate from an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology, Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital, that said “vitiligo is non-infectious and will not spread by contact.”
The doctor said it was nothing but loss of pigmentation and that the boy should be allowed to pursue his studies. However, the medical certificate failed to evoke any positive response.
When The Hindu contacted Vice-Chancellor M. Venkatesulu on Tuesday, he said the university had not taken a final decision on the student’s studies. However, Ayyappan was not allowed to attend classes and asked to remain in the hostel.
On Wednesday, the authorities asked his mother to take him home. The Vice-Chancellor could not be reached on his mobile phone on Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t understand how the university can ask my son to leave the institution, when the tuition and hostel fees have been paid,” Ms. Hemavathi said. Kalasalingam University was the only institution offering the unique programme and he had no choice but to continue there.
“They say they are ready to take him next year if he gets cured,” she added. The university authorities have informed her that she would be apprised of the future course of action after a week over phone.
“This is nothing but sheer discrimination by the university authorities on the basis of leucoderma, which is only de-pigmentation of skin due to auto-immune disorder,” secretary of Chennai-based Leucoderma Awareness Movement, K. Umapathy, said.
He cited a State government order of December 27, 2010, stating that vitiligo, also called leucoderma, was neither an infectious nor a hereditary disease.
The university’s action was a rights violation and unconstitutional, he said.
Stating that there were misconceptions about vitiligo, Mr. Umapathy said the movement would approach the Departments of Health, School Education and Higher Education, seeking suitable orders that no child should be discriminated by schools and colleges on the basis of vitiligo.
“We want the government to stop denial of admission to such students,” he added.
MADURAI, July 13, 2012
Varsity to refer student afflicted with vitiligo to medical board
Kalasalingam University on Thursday said that it would refer P. Ayyappan, a first-year student afflicted with vitiligo, to a medical board. “This is to satisfy fellow students and their parents.”
Responding to a report carried by The Hindu on Thursday, Registrar T. Vasudevan said that the varsity had never shut its doors on the deserving student for pursuing higher education.
The Registrar, who was non-committal on admitting the student in the current academic year, said in a statement that the university even went to the extent of informing Ayyappan’s parents that “it is ready to take him next year if he gets cured, in case the skin disease is infectious.”
Ayyappan was admitted to the six-year integrated course for the speech and hearing impaired after due process of selection, the statement said. Some of the fellow students had complained to university authorities about white patches on his body. Ayyappan was asked to leave the university soon after he was enrolled for the course. The youth with speech and hearing impairment from Tirunelveli had been confined to the hostel and not allowed to attend classes.
Despite the parents producing a medical certificate from a government dermatologist that vitiligo was only depigmentation of skin and not infectious, the authorities asked him to vacate the hostel on Wednesday.
The parents, along with Ayyappan, who were in Madurai, said on Thursday that they would approach the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. “We have brought him up with a lot of difficulty and admitted him to the course of his choice. We cannot see him disappointed,” his mother said.
MADURAI, July 14, 2012
Varsity asks student afflicted with vitiligo to rejoin classes
Kalasalingam University has asked P. Ayyappan, a first year B. Tech student affected with vitiligo, to rejoin the classes on Monday.
Parents of the speech and hearing-impaired boy, who was admitted to the six-year integrated course, complained that the university authorities did not allow him to attend the class citing complaints from fellow students and their parents about the white patches on his body.
The boy, who was confined to hostel, had to leave the university campus on Wednesday.
However, Chancellor, K. Sridharan, told The Hindu on Friday, “We had neither suspended nor dismissed him from the university. All that we wanted was to get a second opinion on the medical certificate he had produced to state that vitiligo was not infectious.
“We do not have any medical knowledge on vitiligo and hence wanted to get a clarification on it so as to convince other students and their parents on their apprehensions.” There seemed to be some communication gap that kicked up the controversy, Mr. Sridharan said.
The university never wanted to discriminate against the boy and there were no second thoughts on helping him pursue his dream of engineering.
“In fact, we introduced the engineering course under speech and hearing-impaired programme only with the service motive of helping such students,” he claimed.
The boy’s mother, P. Hemavathi, said that she received a call from the university on Friday morning asking her to bring Ayyappan back on Monday.
The Leucoderma Awareness Movement has welcomed the university’s decision to allow the boy to continue his studies.
Its secretary K. Umapathy said that the authorities had a very important role in ensuring that the boy was not discriminated against by anyone on the university campus.
“We are not against Kalasalingam University. But, we had to fight for the boy’s cause, because we feared that sending out Ayyappan because of this aesthetic disorder would set a wrong precedent. It might affect the studies of around 20 lakh other vitiligo-affected students now in schools and colleges,” he said.
The government should issue a circular to educational institutions to prevent recurrence of such incidents, he added.