The dharna at Southfield College on Monday. (Suman Tamang)
Darjeeling, Oct. 1: Around 200 girls of Southfield College today sat on a dharna to protest a system under which the students had to obtain passes from the teacher-in-charge to go out of the campus.
Although the system had been in place for more than a month, the trigger for today’s protest was a notice issued on Saturday, saying no passes would be issued for one week as the teacher-in-charge was out of station. That means the students would be kept confined to the campus during the study hours from 9.30am to 3.30pm.
The girls termed the measure “ridiculous” and demanded that they be treated as “mature individuals”.
“At times we have emergency work like going to a bank or filling up forms. One can have a medical emergency and there could be many other things which we are expected to do as college students when we do not have classes. We are unhappy with the system of issuing passes,” said a student.
The girls’ college has around 550 students. The demonstration was held in front of the main building of the institution for two hours. The teacher-in-charge, Rakashri Rai, left for Kathmandu yesterday with a group of 50 students for an excursion and she will rejoin on Saturday.
Sources said the passes were issued by the teacher-in-charge after considering the reasons and the applicant’s off period. The pass has a time limit within which a student is expected to return. Students whose houses are nearby were given permanent lunch passes.
“Even students who have classes from 11am are expected to reach by 9.30am. This is ridiculous. As college students we need to be treated as mature individuals,” said a student.
Another girl alleged that some teachers were rude to those who wanted passes. “We cannot go out because of this system and have to take lunch from the canteen even if the food is not good.”Although the protest was lifted at 4.30pm, the students said they would resume the agitation from Wednesday. The college will remain closed tomorrow on account of Gandhi Jayanti.
Teacher Sadip Pradhan said: “We introduced the system so that no untoward incidents occur to students outside the campus during college hours.”
Ratna Mishra, the temporary teacher-in-charge, said students had been asked to ignore the notice. “Since the teacher-in-charge is out of station, we cannot change the rules immediately. We are willing to issue passes as was the practice earlier till the teacher-in-charge returns,” she said.