Delhi’s Miranda House had recently released a notice for its over 1,200 students from The School of Learning that clicking “selfies, combing hair or modelling in the gallery” could lead to a day’s suspension. But after protests from the SOL students and threats to approach the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), the college administration is retracing its steps, saying that it was merely a suggestion.

If society wasn’t already discriminatory towards women, the notice goes a step ahead and implies that if women click selfies in the corridor, they aren’t interested in academics. If they comb their hair, their vanity outshines their ambitions. If they lean on the balcony or sit on corridor pillars posing for pictures, their safety is jeopardised.

After the outcry, Miranda House principal Pratibha Jolly said the notice wasn’t signed by her, and as a progressive college, it would never impose such rules on students. ” I take selfies myself, so why will I ban the students from doing this,” she said.

The SOL students attending college on weekends alleged that the college discriminated between them and regular students. But Jolly said that was never the case. A third year Miranda House student Kiran Singh tells that the protests haven’t affected the classes for regular students. “We haven’t had much time to discuss the issue either. But personally, I don’t support any of it,” she says.

AISA activist Kawalpreet Kaur spoke out against the issue on Facebook after the principal of the college suggested that “‘regular’ students in college have ‘sense’ and it is only these students of SOL who don’t know how to behave”.

She states, “SOL, which is facing severe shortage of infrastructure, lack of adequate faculty and it is a known fact that students who study there come from very marginalised backgrounds and some have to work and study simultaneously. These advisories only show the exclusionary attitude of the college administration towards these students on their caste and class basis. This advisory itself stems from a high sense of elitism and ignores the sense of individuality and capabilities of students from marginalised backgrounds. It is nothing more than systematic oppression of denying these women students access to equal spaces in campus and society at large.”

One hopes that colleges come up with a better way to keep students in classes. How about not come up with misogynist advisories and assert their rights over women’s appearances and whatever it is they choose to do with their free time?

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