NO SELFIES, NO COMBING HAIR, NO MODELING- MIRANDA HOUSE’S RULES FOR SOL STUDENTS
Students from School of Open Learning who attend Sunday classes at Miranda House, University of Delhi have been struck with yet another blow by one of the ‘leading progressive educational institutions’ of our country. The college has put up a notice for SOL students (read female students) to not click “selfies” and not do “modelling” inside the campus, or even “comb their hair”. Doing so would result in suspension for that day.
This notice smacks of elitism and caste, class bias, seeking to control the ways in which SOL women students occupy the college space. The clear message of the notice is to convey to SOL students that the college premises, the infrastructure does not belong to them. This is not only policing of the way students interact with each other, or how they spend their time( whether sitting on the terrace, the parapet or the lawns and click selfies while enjoying the sun on their face) but about driving the point home that they have access to this infrastructure on a rental basis. Such a notice seems to stem from the bias that women students of SOL are frivolous and not serious enough students to concentrate on studies, more so women who comb their hair, take selfies and walk confidently. That one must look and behave a certain way, earn the tag of studiousness to be allowed education( standards to which the regular students live upto anyway, no matter all the effort we put into manufacturing them ladies, and the hostel residents prove it every night by willingly being locked up, that’s all). Most of the women students enrolled with SOL work through the week and travel quite a distance to college to attend classes and continue education, some fund their own education and some fight many a battle at home to do so, some support their families as well. Such a notice demeans their struggle.
Oh your caste-patriarchy must be challenged so much when SOL students are seen in selfies with Miranda House in the background, so challenged by them combing their hair, oh you must smell rebellion in their chats! How can the great liberal, feminist institution, Miranda House, provide education to women who are so unladylike! And how could SOL students click picture within the campus, as if they belong here, hrrmph!
While the principal denies signing the document, she nevertheless acknowledges that it was decided by the staff and is only an advisory. What is rather interesting is that inspite of this notice being “advisory”, it threatens to suspend students if found doing so! In fact, one incident has also been reported wherein a student was not allowed to enter the campus by the guard after being “caught” clicking selfies near the premises, let us emphasise, near the premises! This kind of ‘othering’ becomes sharper when the Principal says the notice is only advisory and yet this eagerness to impose these diktats. Even so, the administration doesn’t seem to have a common reason its imposition either. While some say it was done to shift focus on studies, others blame the fragile and dangerous architecture of the building while expressing their concern behind this absurd notice. The kind of language used by the Principal of the college is patronising towards SOL students( our regular students are not like this, our NSS program ‘Each one, Befriend One’ helps to inculcate the ethos of the college as they only have weekly classes)
In a space where more focus needs to be directed to working on actual concrete security measures, our educational institutions are bent on imposing regulations that are not only threatening to women but are actually ridiculous! This kind of hypocrisy prevalent in our universities not only exposes the bleak prospects of achieving gender equality but also reveals the dynamics of such “liberal, progressive”( where Western Dance and Performing arts practice goes on till 8:30) educational institutions as sham! It also conveniently distracts one from the issues that concern SOL students at large, from lack of better infrastructure, regular classes and better transportation facilities.
Miranda House, your facade of liberal feminism has been chipping off for quite some time, this is a new low. This notice must be revoked immediately. The student and faculty community at Miranda House must come together to denounce such a notice!
by- Pinjara Tod Campaign