‘Ripped’ the freedom! Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College issues stricter dress code guidelines

A flabbergasting news from St. Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao in Mumbai has recently resulted in a heated debate among the students across the country regarding  the freedom to wear clothes of one’s choice. The news spread like a wildfire when earlier this week, the administration of St. Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao issued a notice declaring a ban on ripped or torn jeans in the campus. Ripped Jeans is one trending fashion statement among the young students these days, with movie stars like Alia Bhatt flaunting cool pair of ripped denims in latest Bollywood flick Dear Zindagi, its obvious for the girls to go gaga over this trend. But seems like the college administration doesn’t really approve of the latest fashion trends, after already imposing a ban on shorts and sleeveless clothes, they have now even added ripped jeans to the list.

While the students are not welcoming this decision and are criticizing this move by the administration personally by taking out their anguish on social media, no formal protest has been organized until now by any student organizations. But the few who have come up to express their dissatisfaction over it have called it a “draconian law”, posting on a social networking site, a female student said “We understand if the institute is against wearing shorts and skirts to college, but how can it have a problem with ripped jeans? The jeans are only torn at the knees”. Although the college authorities are not ready to comply with the reasonability of the situation. The college is run by an order of Jesuits and Catholic priests. The management believes that adding ripped jeans to the list of banned apparels was necessary.  “The jeans are ripped all over. It is embarrassing to see children on campus in such tattered clothes. We have just put up the dress code on our circular board. Not a single student has objected to it,” said Agnelo Menezes, principal of the institute. The management is not willing to make any compromises when it’s a matter of the name and reputation of the institution. They refuted the criticism of the decision by further adding that the dress code is a very significant part of the rules and regulations of the college since its genesis and its impossible to let the students trample upon the legacy of the institution by wearing clothes which are also in a way a “mockery of the clothes that the poor are forced to wear.”

If sources are to be believed the college imposed the ban after some professors mentioned that watching the students come to class in such clothes had become an embarrassment for them. Some students wearing ripped jeans were even reportedly taken to his office by a professor. He said,” I told them to change and then come to college, he added “the torn part could be anywhere on the pants and sometimes it becomes embarrassing. The incident prompted him to release an informal notification supported by an official ban on the apparel. The principal said, “Torn clothes are worn by the poor because they have no choice, and one cannot make it a fashion statement. “Students should be a little more professional in their approach in their college. A business school will never allow such clothes on the campus. Students can make use of all the fashion outside the college campus,”, added Menezes.

While this ideological battle between the students and the college authorities is going to continue for some time, the criticism is gaining momentum as more and more students from different colleges are reporting similar instances of  draconian laws being imposed by the management of their respective institutions, in different parts of the democracy, ironically, which doesn’t seem like one anymore.