Campaign Against Authoritarian and Conservative Functioning of Delhi University Women's Hostels sign now

We, the undersigned, have learnt of the struggle led by residents of University Hostel for Women (UHW), University of Delhi, against the increasingly autocratic and authoritarian measures taken by the hostel authorities, that is, the Warden, Dr Tanuja Agarwala, the Provost, Prof. Ashum Gupta, members of the hostel Managing Committee and University’s Proctorial Office. This struggle began when the hostel authorities put up a list of certain election criteria which, besides following Lyngdoh recommendations, introduced many other stringent provisions for disqualifying candidates from contesting elections. We have learnt that a hostel union Constitution was also imposed on the students who, as constituents of the union, cannot be denied the right to amend and ratify their union Constitution. The imposed hostel union Constitution has taken away the right from students to call general body meetings, conferring this power solely upon executive committee members of the union. Furthermore, the right to hold general body meetings of the union is now determined by whether permission has been granted by the hostel Provost for such a meeting. Like the residents of the hostel, we too perceive the implementation of these provisions as an attempt to eat into the independence of the students’ union, and to create a docile mass of women students.We are aware of the fact that the residents have also been protesting against conservative hostel rules such as NO EXIT after 8pm (even though they are allowed to return till 11pm under the late night provision), the prohibition of Miranda House students and others from using the hostel canteen, extremely limited number of nights-out and late nights, etc. We believe that such rules should change so as to incorporate the needs, and the rational suggestions posited by the women students.We are also shocked to hear reports of how the hostel authorities have indulged in vicious character assassination of women students involved in the struggle, as well as various other forms of individual victimization. It is disturbing to know that all democratic means used by the women students, like calling meetings, collecting signatures in support of their campaign, postering, protesting outside the Vice Chancellor’s office, etc., have been termed “illegal”. The authorities have interpreted these actions as gross violation of rules and have even threatened students with disciplinary action. M.Phil research students who have got an extension in their courses are not being allowed an extension in the hostel as was the norm earlier. Girls are being individually threatened that they will be failed in their academic projects, expelled from the hostel, etc. if they do not withdraw their struggle. Parents, supervisors and heads of departments of the students have also been contacted. Students continue to be victimized individually in spite of the Dean of Colleges, Prof Pachauri’s verbal assurance given to the protesting students on 16th march that such victimization would stop.We appeal to your office to respect the students’ basic democratic rights with respect to their union Constitution, and with respect to voicing their discontent on prevailing rules in women’s hostels. We request your office to meet with students of the various women’s hostels at the earliest, and to discuss their concerns and suggestions. We believe that if the abovementioned measure is followed, your office will find that so far only a caricatured and unjust version of the women students’ demands and suggestions have reached higher University authorities like yourself.

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Michael FisherBy:
Culture and SocietyIn:
Petition target:
Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi


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