After a long arduous struggle against the regressive hostel and campus rules being applied on women, Regional Institute of Education (RIE) is witnessing a united protest by women students, one they haven’t seen since 1961!
Women march towards the Principal’s office! Despite sitting in protest the whole night, the authorities didn’t think enough to pay heed to their demands. Now they will be compelled to ‘notice’ the protest.
As women reach there, the principal comes to address their rally! The women have all covered their faces in order to avoid personal/individual targeting which the college is prone to witnessing. But the staff along with the principal insists they ‘unmask’ themselves in order to be heard! The principal is pressuring women to ‘not hide their identity’ despite them clearly stating that they don’t wish to get the dupattas off. They are now using this as a barrier to the negotiations, citing the ‘dupattas’ as a reason to not hold a dialogue, this is the most bizarre and arrogant way to demonstrate one’s own power as an admin. He is also asking them to shift their protest to the auditorium, in an attempt to manage the visibility of the protest. The media at the gates are being informed that no protest is happening, while women are being encouraged to be taken to a close space where their protest will be rendered invisible.
After submitting their list of demands day before yesterday. Women students had requested the admin to meet them to address their concerns. Yesterday’s silent protest, lasted over three hours, wherein at first the admin didn’t bother to come and talk to them and when they did, they asked the protesting students whether their “Parents would allow them to stay out till 10 pm.’’ To which the women replied with a resounding, “Yes!” When the admin was on backfoot by such a response, they reacted with a hurried, “Well your parents might but we won’t!”
These are adult women who are capable of making their decisions, and yet the administration patronises them and denies them their agency by first invoking parental permission and second, undermining their ability to assert themselves. After three rounds of negotiations, it’s clear the admin will do everything in its capacity to dissuade the students from pursuing their demands.
Last night’s protest ended with the admin promising to hold a meeting within 18 hours to ‘discuss’ the demands. The protesting students had repeatedly told them that they wanted an open meeting, which the admin refused to conduct but today, finally some representatives from the movement were sent in for a meeting which unfolded in three phases with none of the demands being met.
In fact, all demands were turned down citing one pathetic excuse after another. The attempt was to prolong the dialogue and tire them out. The protesting students who have been showing immense resilience, courage have again decided to respectfully sit in silent protest with the resolve to not compromise on any of their demands. They have been sitting in protest since 6.45 PM tonight. Thus far they haven’t done anything to antagonise the administration which with its fragile ego labels every act of dissent as ‘uncultured.’ The protesting students, despite their deteriorating health, have decided to sit in the lawns outside their hostel, indefinitely, until their demands are met.