By Ishita Mishra:
I sat with my legs crossed, trying to control my pee as I waited for the last lecture of the day to end. The ‘Advertising and PR’ lecture had never seemed this long. My focus was on going home and relieving myself, but that meant another half hour of bladder control. There was no way I would use the college washroom. As the teacher started winding up the topic with the example of the ‘Jahan Soch Wahan Shauchalaya’ ad campaign and the importance of clean toilets in rural areas, I realised the irony of the situation.
People in rural areas suffer a hundred times more, but even students like us, studying in an urban university, have to control our pee because of the absence of a clean and usable washroom. With a daily practice session from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., most of us have mastered the art of controlling our pee.
My bladder, which was on the verge of bursting, forced me to use the filthy and stinky washroom in college. The incident left many questions in my head. Was it only my college which had dirty washrooms? Couldn’t one of the premiere universities in the country, provide its colleges with something as basic as clean toilets? Did girls on their period face problems because of unhygienic conditions in their college toilets? I decided to look for answers from the students of different colleges in Delhi University (DU).
As I questioned students, I realised that most of them avoided using the college washrooms. Some had not even used it once. The reason for most of them was the same – dirty, stinky washrooms with no dustbins and soap. Even water was sometimes unavailable. Most colleges even lack sanitary napkin dispensers in their washrooms. Based on the answers I received, I came to know that some colleges ensure their washrooms are clean only when the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) comes for inspection to grade the institute. However, the condition goes back to square one after a few days of the inspection. While the problem isn’t as severe in some colleges, certain colleges have an unimaginably bad condition.
A student of Ramjas College told me, “Not all washrooms are clean. The ones in the corridors are smelly and unusable. There are no sanitary napkin dispensers.” A student of Gargi college had a similar complaint. She said, “The washrooms stink terribly. The toilets are dirty and unflushed.”
Fortunately, not students from all colleges had such negative things to say about their college restrooms. Shri Ram College of Commerce seems to be the better of the lot. “The washrooms are pretty clean, and I don’t mind using them. There are sanitary napkin dispensers. However, they mostly don’t have sanitary napkins in them,” a student from SRCC opined.
Women’s colleges don’t fare any better. A student of Mata Sundari College told Campus Watch that the toilet in her college is so dirty that she has only used it once. She has avoided using the college restroom since her first visit. We were told that the washrooms in the Miranda House are so dirty that a foul smell can be smelt even from a distance.
Zakir Husain College also has much better toilet facilities than other colleges. Campus Watch was told by a current student how the toilets are usually clean and usable.
A girl from Daulat Ram College also spoke about how bad the condition is at her college. “There is just one washroom for 4,000 students in college, so you can imagine how horrible the condition is.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, one has Lady Shri Ram College, which has more hygienic toilets. A student of the college Campus Watch got in touch with, said, “The washrooms are clean and also have sanitary napkin dispensers installed in them, but there aren’t any sanitary napkins inside.”
It is ridiculous that a university which flaunts its excellence in academics is unable to provide clean washrooms in colleges. The colleges should make sure that the toilets are cleaned at regular intervals and are timely renovated or reconstructed. If the funds received by colleges fall short, then some portion of the money allocated to college fests should be used for maintaining the toilets. This is an issue that requires immediate attention by Delhi University or else students will start contracting urinary infections. If they haven’t already.