On April 3, 2023, the students of Gargi College, led by SFI, organised a protest to demand the restriction-free organisation of their annual college fest, Reverie, along with standing in solidarity with protesting IPCW students.
On Monday, April 3 2023, a rumour that the Gargi College’s administration’s planned to cancel its annual fest, Reverie, was met with protests led by SFI Gargi. This event followed the stampede and cases of harassment that took place at the annual fest of Indraprastha College for Women on March 28, 2023.
The fest was tentatively scheduled for April 10–12, 2023. Such rumours particularly caught wind when, on March 31, 2023, “Reverie Reveal” did not go as planned, as the college’s Student Council failed to disclose the theme for the upcoming fest as they were expected to. The protestors assembled in front of the admin office for hours. However, nobody from the admin office came to address them, instead asking two students to enter the office but leave their phones behind – something they refused to comply with.
The protestors questioned the administration’s move of imposing restrictions on a women’s college fest because of what transpired at IPCW, rather than increasing security as necessary. They questioned the “highly regressive” idea of asking students to leave early in a metropolitan city like Delhi, simply because they are women. They demanded the right to organise a college fest without the imposition of such unreasonable restrictions, just like other co-ed colleges of the University.
However, it was revealed that rather than the fest being cancelled, additional guidelines and restrictions had been put in place by the administration to allegedly curb crowding and the chances of mishaps. These included wrapping up the event by 5 PM, removing the element of a star night or concert, and limiting the fest to society competitions and events. A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared that the student council were informed of these changes on the evening of 30th March, Thursday.
Our original itinerary had a band performance, stand-up comedy, and Qawwali night till 7-8 in the evening. But on the 31st they told us that it will be till 5, with no band, no stand-up comedian, only sufi night, because apparently that would not attract boys. Basically, nothing that can generate mass crowd because apparently coronavirus is spreading – only after 5 PM – and because of the IPCW incident. These were the two reasons they gave us.” – an anonymous student
In opposition to these restrictions as well as in solidarity with protesting IPCW students, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Gargi College, decided to lead a protest demanding “a proper fest without restrictions while ensuring safety of the students,” as said in an SFI press release dated April 3, 2023. The protest began around 12:30 PM with a handful of students in the Arts Quad area of the college, but over time allegedly grew to amass a crowd of over 500.
SFI Gargi led a protest on 3 April, 2023 in solidarity with the students of IPCW and against the Gargi administration restricting the students by cancelling Reverie’23. We were joined by a huge mass of students as well as the college societies. We’ll continue to fight for the rights of the students inside and outside our college campus.” – Aahana, SFI South Area President and Anurakti, SFI College Secretary in a joint statement
A meeting was held with the members of the Student Council, heads of various societies, unions, etc., and other students, where the Student Council of Gargi College allegedly stepped down from the organising committee as the event was not going as they had planned. Several societies have also reportedly decided to boycott the fest unless it is organised as per the original itinerary.
This edition of Reverie would be the first to take place after the unfortunate incidents of harassment and abuse that took place in the last edition of the fest, organised in February 2020. A continuation of the protest on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, seems to be planned until student demands are met. SFI’s press release additionally mentions a memorandum that will be submitted on the same day in this regard.
Feature Image credits: Devangi for DU Beat