Woes of Washrooms in Delhi University

There is an endless amount of woes of washrooms for a menstruator studying at Delhi University. Across colleges and campuses, lack of basic facilities and institutional disinterest in improving the state of bathrooms combine to provide unhealthy conditions for students. Read to find out more.

Home to 70,000 seats, Delhi University (DU) is one of the largest universities in India. With 91 affiliated colleges that closely vie for top spots in university rankings in the country, it is one of the most sought-after educational institutions. Impressive alumni, placements, and professors make DU a top preference for many students. However, the ground reality of college life is dictated by infrastructural setbacks. A prime example of how this affects students in their daily lives can be seen through the experiences of menstruators studying at DU. The sordid condition of the loos adds onto the woes of washrooms in DU.

What is it like to have your period at a DU college? Is this question too general, and do experiences change from one college to another? Are period products available in colleges, and even if they are, do washrooms provide the required facilities to use them?

College life as a menstruator is quite challenging. Sitting through classes while suffering from menstrual cramps, mood swings, and the general heaviness of being on your period, worrying about whether you need to change your period product, checking for stains—the list goes on and on.Adding to the list is the gruesome state of the washrooms at Delhi University.

In Miranda House, tampons and pad dispensers have recently been installed for the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) inspections. Each pad costs five rupees, and the machines are not present in all bathrooms. While this may provide some students with easy access to pads, there are many taps in the washrooms that do not work, and students are compelled to wash their hands at the drinking water tap. 

There’s also almost always no soap. I usually carry paper soap with me because we do have liquid soap bottles kept in the washrooms, but they are empty most of the time. There are also a lot of washrooms in Miranda which do not have working latches; the door and the latch just don’t match, so those stalls cannot be used then, or you need to place a friend outside on guard.

Sukriti, a third-year student at Miranda House 

This clearly shows how even colleges with high rankings (Miranda has been a National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rank 1 for the past six years) do not provide basic facilities to students. At Kamala Nehru College, the pad dispenser is broken, and the janitor charges five rupees to provide a pad. 
The lack of infrastructure is worsened by the unclean floors and surfaces of the bathrooms. While college washrooms usually have a cleaning schedule pasted on the back of the door, the washrooms remain dirty and unhygienic and are not cleaned properly. Wet floors, a stinking odour, and no dustbins – washrooms are in a terrible state. Girls’ common rooms (GCRs), too, are infamous for being practically useless when it comes to a menstruator’s comfort. 

Every time I have gone to the girls’ washroom, it has been in such an unhygienic condition that I have left immediately. There are no facilities for menstruators; even dustbins are only present in some washrooms, and not in all of them.

Urmi, student at Ramjas College. 

The absence of dustbins implies that most menstruators will be compelled to dispose of their used period products by flushing them. Even the flush doesn’t work in many bathrooms. In Hansraj College, students are tired of washrooms where the flush takes five minutes to reset and where dustbins are invisible. Again, due to the lack of hygienic washrooms, the few decent ones are frequented to the point where they are always dirty. 

In Maitreyi College, the lack of sanitary product dispensers and vending machines leaves menstruators with no choice but to reach out to their friends in case of emergencies. Further complicating matters, the medical room is pretty far away from the washrooms. Leaking taps, broken latches, broken doors, no dustbins, and an absence of sanitary napkin vending machines, is how a menstruator from Kalindi College describes the washrooms in their college. 

Even basic amenities like toilet paper seem like a luxury when one hears about the conditions of these toilets. In 2020, a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz called “DU Bleeds” sought menstruation-friendly washrooms across Delhi University. While multiple petitions by different political organisations and student bodies have been calling for proper bathroom infrastructure and facilities like running water, soap, and dustbins, the state of the DU washrooms remains pitiful.

Read also: Toilets: Talking about the Deep Shit

Are DU’s washroom’s as clean as they ought to be

Featured Image credits: Rethinking the Future

Shiuli Sural

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Shiuli Sural is a third year history student at Hansraj College, Delhi University. She spends her time reading and writing, and is passionate about Greek mythology and menstrual equity. Her favourite Greek goddess is Athena.