Delhi University has recently claimed that it wants to shift all its hostels to the ‘self-finance’ model, to get a glimpse of what that would mean, read the following account by women residents of Ambedkar Ganguly Hostel, which has seen this ‘model’ being implemented for many years now:
“Ambedkar Ganguly Students’ House for woman is a DU hostel with which is mandated to cater to housing needs of DSE and SC/ST students on what has been called the “self financing mode.” The students of this hostel had warmed up to harassment at re-admission interviews where questions were placed on the number of late nights and night outs availed by women students- all for the sake of what we are told is “luxury living” in North Campus. Business as usual took a turn when the warden of the hostel conveyed her intention of communicating with the parents of rule breakers: women who entered hostel premises after the last entry time (on a “late night”), stipulated at 11:45 pm. No regard was paid to the fact that the “offenders” were adults, capable of making rational decisions without the consultation of their parents, just like their male classmates who inhabit VKRV Rao Hostel without facing any such threats. When the residents protested in a discussion on their hostel WhatsApp group, it was decided that the matter must be referred to the Warden, as violation of the UGC Circular which states that no discriminatory rules can be imposed on women, was plain.
We took over a meeting which was called towards the organization of the Hostel Night because the warden was too busy to meet us otherwise. Our complaints were met with cold nonchalance, followed by a defence which was meant to placate the “hormonal outburst.” Since the warden claimed that a change of rules is to be carried out at the level of the Management Committee (MC), the students demanded the convention of an MC meeting in the presence of the Elected Student Welfare Association (SWA) and two nominal resident members (also to be elected by the residents in a GBM).
Next, the SWA convened a GBM to discuss the issues at hand. A detailed Memorandum was prepared that bore the structure of hostel rules in their present state and the revision proposed by the residents. All the propositions in the Memorandum were openly discussed, debated and then voted into the document using the Majority Voting Rule. It was further decided that another GBM would be convened in the presence of the warden where the nominal student representatives to the MC meeting would be voted upon. This Memorandum was to be presented to the warden first, and then to the Management Committee.
And thus began an era of excuses which culminated into outright harassment of residents. The GBM was to be called after the Hostel Night- because it was priority that women are pretty and presentable at the annual cultural night and must concentrate their energies on choosing what to wear and not what time they wish to come home. The students kept waiting for the warden to spare some time out of her henceforth, busy schedule until the University Exams. Once the exams ended, the warden was at leisure to harangue the students at midnight to vacate hostel premises by the next afternoon for reasons that she was not entitled to divulge. Her not-so-busy schedule also grant her the liberty to call our parents and assassinate our characters. Surely, an example was being set. A resident who was “caught” flouting rules was asked to vacate the residence, her parents were summoned to Delhi, apologies were extracted and re-admission to the hostel was denied anyway.
Another student was asked to pay 30% of her stipend from her summer internship (a number the warden could not find in the hostel rule book) in order to avail hostel facilities in the summer. Mind you, no such rule is being imposed on the resident’s of the Men’s hostel (VKRV Rao Hostel) who study in the same classrooms as us and intern at the same offices as us. This we have been told is because of the self financing mode at which our hostel operates. One begs to ask the question: why is it assumed that women can self-finance their accommodation and men cannot? AGSHW is also mandated to serve SC/ST students of Delhi University- why must students from these backgrounds bear a burden which a Central University must undertake? How many women students who managed to get admission in these institutions had to return to their hometowns because the self must finance its education?
We decided to directly approach a member of the management committee that we had access to. It was found that the promise of the MC meeting was not only empty, it was an outright lie. We were informed that none of the MC members were informed about the unrest in the hostel and the demands for greater individual autonomy.
We, the residents of AGSHW strongly believe that such infantalization in the name of safety is an outright affront. We will not tolerate the belittling our thought and action. We are prepared for a negotiation only if the authorities quit making their clarion calls to our parents and drop their pretense of concern.”