Published: 16th September 2019
Massive win for Hyderabad's St Francis College girls as management agrees to cancel new dress code and stop screening
The students have gone back to their respective classes after the management agreed to roll back to the previous dress code — no sleeveless, short clothes or cold shoulders
The students of St Francis College for Women in Begumpet, Hyderabad, who were protesting against the college administration's new dress code that compels them to wear kurtis that at least cover their knees have decided to called off the protest and resume classes after the administration agreed to maintain the dress code mentioned in the prospectus. An undertaking that students have to sign during admission says that they will not wear "short, sleeveless or cold-shoulder" dresses — they can wear t-shirts and their kurtis need not cover their knees.
Around 500 students and alumni have joined in on the protest against the latest dress code which was implemented this year. Sister Sandra Horta, the principal, told student representatives that the management has decided to maintain the dress code mentioned in the prospectuis. "Tha means the new rules don not apply anymore. we can wear t-shirts as well if we want to," said a student.
"We wanted no dress code, they said back to the old one. They agreed no more screening at the gate, so that's a win," said a second-year BSc student who did not want to reveal her identity. "This was not about a rule. It was a fight against patriarchy and internalised misogyny. We won for now. If they try it again, we'll come back bigger," she added. Sister Sandra had initially said that she needed to consult the management on the issue and had asked the students to resume classes or she "cannot do anything". She also refused to come out and address the crowd. The students had expected a turnout of around 150 in front of the college but the response has been overwhelming. Some of the other colleges have also joined in.
The administration, that had also told students that a long kurti would get them "good marriage proposals" had received flak from social media. Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor, comedian Sapan Verma and Supriya and numerous local RJs had also criticised the college's step. "This is bloody ridiculous! This principal needs to be fired," wrote the actor as she shared a video on Instagram.
Zanobia Tumbi, who graduated last year, took to social media to discuss the problem and called for a protest on September 16 against the college administration's bizzare one-inch-below-knee rule. "Sister Sandra announced a new dress code change in the middle of the year and her colleagues told our representatives that a long kurti would get us good marriage proposals. They told our representatives that standing up for a cause is blasphemous, raising your voice is blasphemous," said Zanobia.
"They would occasionally come down near the gate to check how the girls are dressed when I was in college. Once in a while, they would even stop us and make us miss a class or two, but never sent us back home just because we were dressed appropriately. This time around, it’s beyond ridiculous. A few Masters students were also sent back home from class. One of them was in a long shirt and she got into college somehow but the lecturer sent them back home and they missed classes for that entire day," Zanobia, who is now pursuing her Master's at the University of Greenwich, added.