The students of School of Open Learning (SOL), Delhi University yesterday protested against the Miranda House administration. Miranda House, it should be known, has been allotted as the study centre for SOL women students, where highly discriminatory and anti-women rules framed by the college administration are being used as a measure to harass women students of SOL. Many cruel rules have been put in place, the flouting of which results in draconian consequences for women students. The ID cards of women students who want to enter the premises of the college are being forcibly snatched away. The students, who have received a message of SOL to attend classes at Miranda House and have come from long distances, are being turned away if they refuse to hand over their ID cards to the college staff.The students who do manage to enter are shoved into overflowing classes of more than 150 students. A highly misogynistic notice too had been put up last Sunday, which has since been removed. It warned students of dire consequences if they were seen combing their hair or taking selfies in the corridor. Moreover, the students are forbidden to sit on the lawns of the college in-between their classes, to go to the canteen and they are misbehaved with if they are even found exchanging notes in the corridors. Many students have been turned out of college for ignoring these highly anti-women, misogynistic rules of the college.
Shockingly, the college which takes pride in its progressive ethos has shown that behind all the facade of liberality, a class bias and misogynistic attitude lurks, for these rules and notices are meant exclusively for women students of SOL. These students from deprived backgrounds are forced to take admission in correspondence courses of SOL, as they are denied admission in regular colleges of Delhi University for failing to achieve the required cut-off marks. The fact that these students are being subjected to such humiliating treatment by the college administration clearly belies its stated belief in women’s empowerment. The prison-like atmosphere, especially put in place on Sundays, creates ample fear in women students, to forego their classes in future.
This amounts to a deliberate attempt by the college administration to bar women students from deprived backgrounds from pursuing higher studies, while simultaneously encouraging students from affluent sections to gain a liberal education. Sadly, the whole talk of women empowerment amounts to a deep-seated class bias, according to which women of affluent sections are expected and even encouraged to pursue their dreams, while those who need subsidised, government funded education, i.e., women students from deprived backgrounds, are expected to fall in line with their situation and forego any ambitions of ever studying in a college. In accordance with such an attitude towards deprived students, rules meant to further humiliate them are framed.
The students, led by activists of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) met college principal and submitted a memorandum demanding immediate annulment of the misogynistic rules barring women SOL students from freely taking their classes on Sundays and strict action against any staff found misbehaving with the students. They also demanded that no civil and democratic rights of the students should be denied. The Principal, Ms Pratibha Jolly expressed her regret to the SOL students on behalf of the college administration and assured that nothing of this kind would ever be repeated.