DUB Speak

Futility of College Restrictions: Dress Codes to Curfews

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“My understanding is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about…He has generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.”

The above was Barack Obama’s response to NFL player Colin Kaepernick remaining seated while the American national anthem played, as a way of protesting racism. If the authorities behind India’s educational institutions paid heed to what the POTUS says in this case, our students would be a considerably less frustrated lot.

From dress codes to curfews, lax administration to authorities’ ruthlessly crushing dissent (this sounds almost like I’m talking about a dictatorial regime) there are several battles that the average Indian student may choose to fight. These battles however, must be picked carefully. The invisible lines must be toed, and criticism of age old established traditions and archaic rules can sometimes earn you a letter of suspension.

The irony is hard to ignore. The same institutions that have taught us to question and analyse and think for ourselves, are restricting our freedom to do the very same. The situation is much like that in France. Most cities in the country that pioneered and advocated the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity during the French Revolution are banning the burkini. All the critical analysis and logical reasoning we are imbibed with in college have no practical significance whatsoever. For, when it comes down to allowing the practical application of such principles with regard to irrational rules that the authorities in college lay down. Protests and criticism are immediately clamped down with the proverbial iron fist. This defeats the very purpose of these institutions.

Worse still, some institutions, inspite of all the ‘learning’ that happens in the classroom, seem to have convinced at least some of their students that the rules are in place ‘for their own good,’ or that when they joined college, they joined with the awareness of a dress code/curfew that existed. Not that this justifies the existence of such rules in the first place.

In terms of the manner in which they function, several of India’s (and I include just India because I have no knowledge about institutions elsewhere in the world) educational institutions may be sexist and incredibly patriarchal. The need of the hour is open spaces of discussion and debate-spaces where dissent and criticism are encouraged and welcomed as a means towards betterment rather than a threat to the manacles of authority.

Image credits: youthkiawaaz.com

Abhinaya Harigovind
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Kriti Sharma is studying BCom (Hons) at Hansraj College. She has a myriad interests, writing being just one of them. A debater, a scholar, a fashionista, she is more of an outdoors person who likes to run 6-8 km a day, just to clear her head. She is an ‘Army Brat’, but an unlikely one. Reading a book by lantern light in a tent by the banks of river Indus after a hard day’s trek in the mountains is her idea of bliss. She wants to be an investment banker but admits that writing lets her escape into a world of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

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