Gender Equality : A Mirage. Regressive Policies : An unpleasant reality.
The Hindu College has reopened admissions to its girls hostel sitting vacant for a year owing to a row of protests against high fees and discriminatory rules that the administration sought to implement on female residents of the college’s hostel last year, however, with the fees for girls hostel being twice as much as the amount payable for accommodation in the boys hostel; where female students are required to pay Rs. 90,000 annually, male students shall only be paying around Rs. 50,000.The Hindu College women’s hostel has become the most expensive among most North Campus colleges such as Shri Ram College of Commerce, Miranda House, Ramjas and Lady Sri Ram College which charge between Rs. 45-65,000 annually. Anticipating huge outcry over their move, the administration decided to make an inconspicuous announcement by sending separate last minute e-mails to the new students.
Last years protests by students and the consequent intervention of various state bodies like the National and State Commission for Women has caused some rules like the requirement to be dressed according to the “norms of society” and a curfew timing of 8.30pm to be dropped and some others to be negotiated. However, rules such as not to roam outside their rooms after 10pm for women students and permission for only one night out in a month, playing of games and other activities in corridors,hostel lawns or verandahs being strictly prohibited still raise eyebrows for being ridiculously regressive and discriminatory.
Despite Delhi Commission for Women’s (DCW) notice to the principal after receiving a representation from students of the college regarding high fee structure and “discriminatory rules” for girls in the newly-constructed 200-room hostel earlier this year, the administration still hasn’t repealed its decision.
The college administration, in a letter to the DCW, cited a lack of grants from the University Grants Commission to be a reason for the exorbitantly high fee. DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwals letter to the UGC was an urge for all stakeholders to ‘make constant endeavours to facilitate equal opportunities for both boys and girls and moreover, promote the cause of greater outreach of higher education for women and girls.’
Ritika, a final year student of Botany Honors, told Aapka Times, ‘ the decision in question is disappointing and against the spirit of Hindu College’s purpose. Moreover, the administration has not been vocal enough about the fund raising with regards to the matter of hostel construction.’ She furthermore believes that ‘constant efforts to voice students’ concerns will help in recovering the progressive environment that The Hindu College stands for.” She also told that the RTI put by some students wasn’t well received and was answered very ambiguously.
It is disappointing to see that the college authorities have failed to consider the diverse student-base which includes students belonging to different economic strata of the society. The picture brings into question a larger issue; that of shifting the financial burden, caused by the authorities’ failure, on to the students. The decision seems to be not going down too well with the concerned students for whom the threat of “being taken back home” looms large.