After several months of protesting by Panjab University girl students to avail 24x7 entry in their hostel rooms, the university syndicate finally allowed girls at the Swami Sarvanand Giri Regional Centre, Hoshiarpur, 24 hours campus access on Saturday. This development in rules by the administration means that girls will now be allowed to come back to their hostels at any time provided they stay within the campus.
The syndicate held that the same rules that were applicable at the Chandigarh campus should apply to the Hoshiarpur regional centre.
One of the students, Avneet Kaur Dhaliwal, who is in the fifth year of BA LLB, spoke to SheThePeople.TV, and said that they made two demands — first, to strike down the discriminatory rule to lock up women hostellers inside the hostel building after 9 pm and permit them to access the campus at all times just like male students have had the liberty to access the campus.
Second, the rule for girl hostellers follows that they are granted permission to leave the premises only for 5 days per week from 7 am to 7 pm (summers) and 8 am to 7 pm (winters). This restriction also only applies to female residents while the male residents enjoy the freedom to step out of the campus at any time.
Dhaliwal revealed that while this is a discriminatory rule that targeted only on one gender, there has been a case of a boy’s murder and accidents right in front of the university campus but the syndicate did not take any action to curb boy’s movement in and out of the campus. In fact, they restricted the girls’ movement outside the college further by cutting it down by half an hour.
“Our campus is very small and we just have three departments here. The campus is secured after 9 pm, also when we asked the authorities what their problem was with allowing girls to access campus, they said that there wasn’t adequate lighting but that applies to boys also. So we decided to raise this issue and come at par with Panjab University in Chandigarh,” she said adding that she was one of the few girls who raised their voices against the discriminatory and sexist rules which started two years ago.
Now the girls are happy about the striking off of the curfew by the campus authorities. “We aim for a gender neutral campus and it is still a far-fetched dream but this has given us some hope. And about our second demand, it is not like we want to go out every day but the point is that in all the three departments of this campus—MCA dept., B.tech and law—and all of us are taught the significance of Article 14 which states our 'right to equality.' Our professors teach us that but when you come out of the classroom, it’s not there. We are just trying to get it imposed,” noted Dhaliwal.
Talking about how the campus access will help female hostellers, she said that there are several events that happen in the campus like a bonfire, etc. “Earlier we were supposed to exit the campus by 7 pm. If there was a fest, then girls could only stay till 9 pm but boys had no curfew time and we would come back to the hostel and look outside through our windows.
If we had sports meet, for that everyone would get to practice on the ground two weeks prior to the meet but no girls could attend that. During exams, the library opens till midnight, girls wouldn’t have equal access to it. So girls have suffered in everything including studies, sports and extra-curricular activities.
If we had sports meet, for that everyone would get to practice on the ground two weeks prior to the meet but no girls could attend that. During exams, the library opens till midnight, girls wouldn’t have equal access to it. So girls have suffered in everything including studies, sports and extra-curricular activities,” said Dhaliwal.
While the girls of Hoshiyarpur, Panjab University have won half of the battle, the second demand still lies far ahead from reality. The girl students of colleges across the country are now rising up to demand their right to equality. Many colleges have had to relent to their protests but some are still clinging on the threads of patriarchy. About time they stop calling moral policing by the name safety.