As the fest season unfolds, students offer a sharp assessment of Delhi University’s fest advisory, highlighting the associated concerns.
In light of recurring security and management lapses at Delhi University’s fests, the university has issued advisory/guidelines to be followed by all colleges and departments regarding the organisation of various programmes and events. The 18-point advisory, which has been updated three times between April 2023 and January 2024, focuses on the necessary rules of pre-registration of attendees, submission of their details to the police, and also a requirement of a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the police, among the various other guidelines. A guideline among the 18 others mentioned: ‘Entry for events should be through pre-registration, like on Google Forms, with details of the event, i.e., date, venue, and the expected number of participants (to) be maintained and submitted to the police with a copy to other departments. The registration forms should include scanned copies of the college IDs of participants.’
Speaking to DU Beat, Rajnish Sah, a member of the Organising Committee of ‘Mecca’, Hindu College’s annual fest said:
It is almost impractical to keep an adequate track of all the records and documents on all the potential entrants and hand them over to the police. It might be feasible for small departmental events, but for events like annual fests, where people attend in thousands, it just proves to be an additional strain on the already burdened organising committee.
When asked about the tight cap on the number of attendees allowed to attend the festival, he added:
DU is known for its exposure and its exchange among the students, especially during the fest season, when students from various colleges connect. Tight attendance limits may hinder the fest’s true purpose.
The university-issued festival advisory guidelines also mention that ‘the concerned college or department is solely responsible for any untoward incident during any event organised by the concerned college or department.’
Considering the following statement, Rajnish added:
Putting all the responsibility of any incident with the college and authority would just put a constraint on the level of a fest. It is impractical to hold the college accountable for every incident that happens.
Anubhav, sponsorship head at Nexus, the annual fest of Sri Venkateswara College, supports this and adds:
The college can be held accountable only up to an extent. It is also necessary to ensure that the legal responsibilities are taken up well for the smooth conduct of a fest.
He also added that currently, there are no significant sponsorship issues arising from the attendance cap.
As per reports from The Hindu, a student claimed that there has been a problem in extracting sponsorships for the events:
Sponsors are brought on board based on the number of attendees. With a cap on this number, agreements are becoming increasingly difficult to secure.
– said Harsh Dalal, President of the Student Union of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), which will host ‘Crossroads’ in the first week of April.
The report also mentions how some students believe that the advisory would ensure security and make things better for the organisers.
Pre-registrations and controlled entry will make things easier and improve the quality of the fest.
– said Aman Choudhary, president of the student union at Sri Venkateswara College.
In March 2023, a group of men allegedly entered Delhi University’s Indraprastha College for Women by scaling the boundary walls and harassing students when the college celebrated its annual festival. A similar incident had also occurred in 2022 during Miranda House’s Diwali Fest, where men were allegedly seen climbing the college walls and indulging in ‘cat-calling and sexist sloganeering’. The rising and repeated cases demanded an advisory to regulate the incidents. As per the fest-advisory guidelines, ‘Prior to any big event in the institution, there should be an assessment of the boundary wall of the college. If found low, concertina wires should be installed to prevent outsiders from scaling the walls.’
A representative from Maitreyi College’s Student Union (identity withheld for anonymity) says:
Where are the notices outlining the repercussions for intruders if another incident occurs again? You can raise the walls, but when will you actually hold the intruders responsible for disregarding the boundaries? How can one ensure that the registered attendees do not create any nuisance on the college campus?
The representative acknowledges that the college has implemented strict measures like applications, registrations, and identity checks for issuing passes to outsiders. However, they highlight that there is no restriction on the number of passes a student from the college can acquire due to the ‘monetization’ of the passes. They then continue and add on to the ‘budgeting issues’ with regards to maintaining security at DU fests:
Since the beginning, many DU colleges have continuously encountered difficulties in securing adequate funding. Things like the security arrangements and illumination of the dimly lit places as per the advisory need funding and resources.
Continuing her statement, she asserts that colleges cannot and should not be solely accountable for all incidents occurring within the campus, stating that the fest-advisory guideline serves merely as a means to deflect legal responsibilities.
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Featured Image Source: The Indian Express