A notice put up at Delhi University’s Miranda House College, meant for School of Open Learning (SOL) students warns students that they could be suspended for a day if found “clicking selfies, combing hair or modelling in the gallery”.
The unsigned notice in Hindi was put up at the front gate, under the name of coordinator, SOL/PCP (personal contact programme) centre, Miranda House College.
“Miranda House College and its teachers are always fighting to ensure your higher education. We hope that women students benefit from this opportunity and focus on academics.
Many women have been seen taking selfies, combing their hair and modelling in the gallery. This is misutilisation of time. The college does not give permission for this.
If any student is found misutilising their time, they will be suspended from the classes held on that particular day, and will be made to leave the college premises,” the notice reads.
About 1,200-1,500 SOL students are part-time students and attend classes at Miranda House on Sundays and official holidays, except Independence Day and Republic Day. Most classes are taught by teachers from outside the college.
“We anyway don’t have proper facilities. And now such rules being imposed on us. This is discrimination as many of us come from lower-middle-class families,” a second-year student commented on the notice.
Students studying at the centre say that they are not even allowed to sit in the canteen and lawn.
One student said: “We have classes from 9.30 to 2.30 in classrooms with more than 150 students. If we wander into the lawns for a break, we are told to get inside. Miranda House guards even come and check the toilets to see what we are up to. Is there any reason to prohibit only SOL students from taking selfies?”
A B.A. Pass student at the SOL centre, who is from an East Delhi slum and works in a mall, said the students had decided to go to the KYS only after the “humiliation became unbearable”.
The Krantikari Yuva Sanghatan (KYS), a communist students’ group in the SOL has said that they would approach the Delhi Commission for Women over the issues faced by SOL students.
“The girls from the Miranda House centre of the SOL brought this notice to us. The language used is shameful. As it is, the classes are overcrowded and these girls are even shooed away from the lawns of the college.”
“This happens because they are all from poor families, and they support their families by working during the week. We will go to the Delhi Commission for Women as it is the only way to end this misogynist attitude,” Aarti, a Delhi state committee member of the KYS, said.
SOL Director C S Dubey said SOL had nothing to do with the notice. When contacted, College Principal Pratibha Jolly confirmed that the notice was drafted by college staff after an internal discussion, but said it was merely “suggestive” since it did not bear anyone’s signature. She denied charges of moral policing.
“We have no power to suspend them,” she said. “The notice was just to make them aware. We haven’t had this kind of problem before, but the current set of students are climbing on parapets and clicking selfies instead of going to classes. Our own students have a sense of responsibility and listen to us. If we warn them, they say sorry and follow the rules, but these students run away if we try to talk to them.”
“Students perch dangerously on parapet walls to take selfies. They were gently advised by staff to focus on attending classes. The college has been working towards empowering SOL students and is keen to provide them the best learning and skill enhancement opportunities.
This is the most progressive college, with western dance and performing arts practice that go on till 8:30 pm, without anyone objecting. The notice was put out only because things are going out of hand,” she added.