By Abhilasha Singh:
For the longest time I believed that my disliking Christ University, Bengaluru, proved that there was something wrong with me, but the rise of this movement has proved that the only difference between me and my former college mates is that they masked their disgust with the management so much better than I ever could. Everyone around me seemed to be enamoured by the ‘Christ brand’ back then, while I chose to spend my 7 months at School of Law, Christ University, sitting in a corner cribbing to the audience of my blog about how uninspiring I found both, students as well as teachers due to their demeanour as well as lack of knowledge.
On my first day at Christ, I vividly remember that sad excuse of an orientation in which a speaker droned on pointlessly about the magnificence of South Korea as opposed to North Korea, and the pride with which we were to wear our ‘Christite’ identity now that we’ve been christened. We were to be thankful for our privilege, apparently.
I took this ceremony as representative of the light bragging most universities allow themselves to indulge in, but was proven so wrong when later into my term, I realised that these statements weren’t just reflective of their general attitude of entitlement, but also their delusional belief that they possessed a monopoly over ‘quality’ education in Bengaluru, which is hilariously far from the truth.
Fact is, Christ doesn’t teach you anything. They train you. They train you as you would an animal before it realises it’s potential and grasps fully it’s knowledge about its abilities. They claim to train you to be ‘professionals’ with better chances at landing and keeping a job, but in reality they only train you to suspend your mental faculties and fit into this clear cut mould of what, in their opinion, the ideal Christite ought to be. They don’t teach you anything except for perhaps, how to skip around puddles in the ground when your salwar keeps finding it’s way under your feet on a rainy day on which you aren’t allowed to wear clothes that fit better, i.e., leggings. And studying here will invariably teach you the many ways in which you could jump off a table top you’re sitting on in class when the faculty coordinator comes by, because that sort of thing can land you a suspension. It almost landed me one.
Being the wide eyed, just out of school, aspiring lawyer that I was in 2013, I made the grave mistake of asking a teacher what ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ meant. The answer I received in response, was the most enlightening one a student could ever receive: “If you’re so interested, Google it.” Unsure of how to react, I chose to sink into my seat for the rest of the day and not ask questions because none of my teachers seemed to enjoy that kind of thing (except one, who also left soon after I did.)
In Christ, I realised, many things amounted to grounds for severe action, and the power to initiate this action lay with the security guards who could not only confiscate mobile phones, but also scrutinise whether the fabric of your pants violated the dress code (yes this happened, and I know this because I overheard the guard ask a teacher in the vicinity) making staring at a girl’s legs the commonplace thing to do no matter how uncomfortable it got for the person being stared at.
Among other things, you aren’t allowed to sit on the road in campus, the very wide stairway, or the floor. Either you sit on a chair, or don’t sit at all. “What is this Western hegemony?” I’d ask myself often while I was still there, but never got any answer except for that it ‘wasn’t professional behaviour’. There was very little to no room for self-expression, and when expression took the form of demonstration of affection through a hug (gender of the people involved was irrelevant), suspension was just around the corner. Suspension seemed to be the ultimate weapon of the management, since in one fell scoop they’d do away with your ‘reputation’ as well as attendance, and ensure that you also got into trouble at home since more often than not parents would be notified as well.
Hugs aside, everything in Christ was sexualised. Women were objects that tantalised boys, and since they were objects anyway, they most definitely weren’t allowed to have a say in a class debate about feminism. “Since it’s about women anyways, why not ask the boys how they feel?” a friend quoted an instance with a professor. Hurting the ego of someone on top of the food chain was also a bad idea, even if you’re in the right and standing up for yourself. I witnessed a classmate almost get expelled for refusing to turn in a phone she’d used to let her parents know that she was unwell.
My journey to college every morning was one filled with dread; “Abandon hope, all ye who enter,” became the tagline I associated with this college, called ‘the hell hole’ in hushed whispers by many of its students.
The final blow came when I found out that my end semester exam hall ticket was blocked because I’d committed the grave crime of not attending the closing ceremony of a Moot hosted by the department, because I was dying of a fever on the day. A lot of undignified pleading that I’ve sworn to never repeat in my life led to the unblocking of my hall ticket, but did not prevent the Father from banning me from Mooting over the rest of my stay at SLCU (which he unfortunately didn’t know was going to last just another two months).
Since my sanity and freedom of expression meant more to me than the pseudo-benefits that came along with the ‘Christ tag’, I decided to stand up for myself and leave college. Till today I don’t entirely know if I was put off by law as a subject or the way Christ chose to deal with it, but decided not to find out since I was done taking risks after a lost year.
Now that there’s significant distance between my present and this episode, I’d like everyone to believe me when I say that I’m truly in a far better place now. And that I believe that no management should be allowed to dictate how you feel about yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and leave when your dignity is what will quench someone’s sadistic tendencies, especially when it’s a management.
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