Lady Shri Ram College is known to be one of the premiere institutes in the country for higher education. Apart from being known as a centre for academic excellence, this college is also known for being a “feminist” space. While the college tries to promote an ideology that focuses on making women lead, ironically the residence hall of LSR is trying to push through regressive measures.
Keeping Them ‘Safe’
The Residence Hall is home to 300 girls from different parts of the country. However, with the increase in measures curtailing the freedom of its residents, it is hard to say how much of a home this place actually is. There are diktats being issued every now and then, without much explanation. In a move that can be best described as hypocritical, the residence hall is asking inmates to adhere to “proper” dress code in the premises. While the college itself has no dress code, the hostel, in spite of being a living space is trying to push for one. This move is problematic because it not only flies in the face of the ideology that the college promotes but is also an unnecessary restriction on the students. The college can’t expect its women to feel confident about what they wear in public spaces, when it can’t stand it in private space.
The diktats of the administration are not limited to dress code. The building is locked up every night ensuring that no one enters/leaves. In a recent power cut, the students had to stay within the premises around 3:00 in the night in spite of the soaring temperatures. “One person has the key of the hostel, so in case of an emergency we are basically at the mercy of that person, which is not just bad planning but also a safety issue,” says a hosteler.
The residence hall has a guard outside the premises for “security” reasons, however his presence has been called by “intrusive” by many residents. The placement of the guard outside the building has also led to a change in certain rules. Earlier, when a resident used to go out during the day, they needed a permission slip that they had to surrender only at the end of the day. Now, as soon as the resident returns they need to submit their permission slips and in case they need to go out again, the have to collect their slips from the guard. This move puts tabs on who is going where and at what time, which ideally should not concern the residence hall as they categorically mention in the handbook that as soon as resident steps out of the campus, the hostel is no longer responsible. The residence hall has now started keeping a count of students right from day break. “Every morning as I go to jog, I am supposed to fill in a register that serves as a record of where I am going. This didn’t happen before. I don’t understand the point of this because I am not even leaving the campus!” says a senior resident. The hostel is pushing through measures that are instilling the feeling of ‘Big Brother watching’ among its residents.
Setting Them ‘Right’
The punishments for any failure to adhere to a certain rule/regulation are also being imparted in a very callous manner. If a student has committed an offence, or broken any rule pertaining to any of their leaves, they are grounded. Now the troubling part is that there are no set time periods about grounding. So if a student has not followed a rule, they can be grounded for any number of days between one week to almost a month. Here again, this provision of grounding students remains an administrative prerogative and is also not mentioned in the LSR hostel handbook.
The hostel functions with the help of various committees. In a recent turn of events, the existing food committee was disbanded by the administration and a process was initiated to put a new one in its place. However, the convener of the older committee was eliminated from the process and not even given a proper explanation. When the convener took to the social media stating her case, that is when most residents got to know about the incident. “After tracking down the president and insisting she tell me what was going on with the sign-up lists, she told me that the food committee was disbanded. The Union, along with Our Warden decided this on 13th evening. A whole day had passed and no one had the courtesy to let me know,” posted the convener online. And yet, till now no one knows about the reason.
Freedom Only On Paper?
There is a difference between school and college and an institute espousing the ideologies of women empowerment during the day can’t turn a deaf ear to them during the night. Rules are important and are essential for the functioning of a common residential space but there can’t be autocracy. The administration can’t expect the students to accept whatever the offer without any resistance. The hostel does have a union but the union has failed its residents. “This is a college, and they are our representatives. They aren’t head girls that they will instill the rules that the administration declares. They are forgetting the fact that we elected them for us,” said another disillusioned inmate.
It is about time LSR decides to change itself and its functioning before it sets out to change the world.
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