A prominent girls’ degree college in Hyderabad was forced to withdraw the dress code imposed on the students, after a month-long protest by them.
Right from the beginning of the academic year in August this year, the management of St Francis’ Degree College at Begumpet, one of the oldest and reputed colleges in Hyderabad, had been insisting that the students strictly follow a dress code while coming to the college.
The dress-code for students as mentioned in the prospectus states, ‘simplicity and modesty in the manner of dress in order to foster a congenial academic atmosphere’ and ‘sleeveless, cold shoulders and short tops are not permitted’.
According to the new dress code, students wearing kurtis above the knees and short-length kurtis over tight leggings were strictly banned from entering the college. According to the students, the management is of the view that such dressing would distract the attention of male teachers and that “such girls might not get good marriage proposals.”
“The rule that the students should wear decent-looking clothes has been there for several years, but they were not enforced strictly. But this year, the management strictly brought in this dress code and started checking the students at the main gate itself. If any student was found violating this dress code, was sent back unceremoniously,” Varshini, a second year degree student said.
The video of management checking on students at the college gate before letting them inside went viral after one of the students posted it on social media.
The students, who took the dress code as a humiliation, had been registering their protests demanding that the code be removed and they be given freedom to choose their dressing.
“It is a girl’s college and not a co-education institution. Secondly, nobody can deny us our freedom to wear the dress of our choice and convenience. In what way the management is concerned about it? They should focus on providing quality education and not our dresses,” another student, who refused to be quoted said.
On Monday, a large number of students assembled in front of the college, blocked the thoroughfare and raised slogans against what they described as draconian dress code. Even parents of some students joined the protest.
With the situation going out of hand, the college management called some student representatives for talks. After prolonged negotiations, the management agreed to relax the new dress code.
Esha Chadha, a final year student who participated in the protest, commented, “I think it’s important that people know that we weren’t making unreasonable demands. Our liberty – be it the open gate system or flexibility of attending the classes we choose are all part of the bigger ecosystem. I’m truly happy that the management has seen merit in our view point.
She said though some students had been protesting for the last one month, not many students had joined them fearing consequences form the college management. “But, when they humiliated us, when the video was circulated we all knew that something had to be done. Now, we are just merely granted permission to dress the way we choose. But, in the context of the society we live in, it’s a huge victory. Today, I’m proud to be a Francisian,” she said.