Monday, 30th October 2017

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Miranda House in selfie ban

Delhi college springs bar on part-time students, principal says 'things are going out of hand'

By PHEROZE L. VINCENT
  • Published 10.01.17
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Miranda House

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Miranda House has issued a notice to about 1,200 part-time students of its School of Open Learning barring them from "clicking selfies, combing their hair and modelling" on campus.

The students, who attend classes only on Sundays and public holidays, have decided to approach the Delhi Commission for Women for action against the women's college affiliated to Delhi University.

The notice, issued in Hindi on November 27 last year, says: "Many students have been seen clicking selfies, combing their hair and modelling... The college administration does not permit this. If any student is found wasting their time, then she will be suspended for the day and sent out of the campus."

The Krantikari Yuva Sanghatan (KYS), a communist students' group active in the School of Open Learning, said it would go to the Delhi women's commission to ensure such "misogynist attitude" is not encouraged.

"The girls from the Miranda House centre of the SOL brought this notice to us. The language used is shameful. As it is, the classes are overcrowded and these girls are even shooed away from the lawns of the college.

"This happens because they are all from poor families, and they support their families by working during the week. We will go to the Delhi Commission for Women as it is the only way to end this misogynist attitude," Aarti, a Delhi state committee member of the KYS, told this newspaper.

Miranda House principal Pratibha Jolly denied charges of moral policing. "We have no power to suspend them. The notice was just to make them aware. Unfortunately, it seems like they are shooting a modelling portfolio.

"We haven't had this kind of problem before, but the current set of students are climbing on parapets and clicking selfies instead of going to classes. Our own students have a sense of responsibility and listen to us, but these students run away if we try to talk to them," she told The Telegraph.

Jolly added: "Last year, the National Service Scheme of the college had a programme called Each One Befriend One, where they interacted with SOL students and they learned a lot from each other.

"The SOL students come from different backgrounds and the NSS helped inculcate the ethos of Miranda House in them as they have only weekly classes....

"This is the most progressive college with western dance and performing arts practice that go on till 8.30pm, without anyone objecting. The notice was put out only because things are going out of hand."

Miranda House students' union president Shallu Chattha was unaware of the notice. SOL students are not a part of the union.

"This is a very liberal place. Students would have come out in protest on their own if such a notice ever came to us," she said.

A BA Pass student at the SOL centre, who is from an East Delhi slum and works in a mall, said the students had decided to go to the KYS only after the "humiliation became unbearable".

She said: "We have classes from 9.30 to 2.30 in classrooms with more than 150 students. If we wander into the lawns for a break, we are told to get inside. Miranda House guards even come and check the toilets to see what we are up to. Is there any reason to prohibit only SOL students from taking selfies?"

A non-teaching staffer, who is on duty on Sundays, said: "These girls are overawed by the historic building. If one of them was my daughter, I would scold her if she wasted an opportunity to study here by taking selfies."

The red-brick building was designed by Walter Sykes George. The foundation of the college was laid by Edwina Mountbatten, India's last Vicereine, in 1948.