Moral policing
The students say that male students too had joined the seniors’ trip, but they were not reprimanded.
Image used for representational purpose only

Two young women in Wayanad’s Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University are having a tough time after they decided to join their seniors who were on a tour in Goa. The issue was raised when they had left for Goa after writing in the ‘movement register’ of the college hostel that they’d be going to Alappuzha for a wedding, and that they had apparently drank beer and created trouble in Goa. The college dean has set up an inquiry committee to investigate the matter and one of the girls’ parents have been informed. When TNM contacted the girls, they had a different story to tell.

The girls – Tina and Lina (names changed) – one of them in the second year and the other in the third year – had left the hostel last Friday to go to a friend’s sister’s wedding in Alappuzha. They wrote in the hostel’s movement register that they were off to Alappuzha. On reaching Kozhikode, however, they changed their plans. Their senior batch from the college had been on a tour and was ending it in Goa that weekend. The girls got invited to join them there and so they chucked the wedding plan and reached Goa the next morning. They called their friends at the hostel to make a correction in the movement register – and it is this “correction” that would be questioned later.

“We met the seniors (in Goa) and went out with them to Baga Beach, spent time with them and returned to the hotel by 10 or 11 in the night. It seems an assistant professor saw us there and immediately alerted our hostel’s assistant warden. The assistant warden then called a GB (General Body) meeting in the hostel, as they sometimes do when there is something to be discussed, and described our trip to the other students in a bad light. Some of the girls at the hostel, who were present for the GB, called us to ask about it, and that’s when we learne it has become an issue. The assistant warden also called one of our parents,” says Tina.

Both the girls had not received any calls for an explanation until then, Tina says. The girls immediately called the assistant warden to ask why they were insulted in this manner. “We said we are in Goa and she said why tell me all that. Some of the boys from the men’s hostel too had joined the senior batch’s excursion – as boys have done in previous years too – but the problem was about two girls going there,” she says. 

The story that is doing the rounds is that the girls consumed alcohol and created an issue, which Tina denies. “There were no issues in Goa,” she says. The matter was reported to the college dean and apparently, an enquiry committee has been set up to investigate the issue. The dean, when contacted, was not available for comments.

They were asked to bring their parents if they wanted to come back to the hostel. “We didn’t do that, we just came back anyway. I was asked for my parents’ number and I said I wouldn’t give it, as there was no need to call them. But they had called Lina’s parents,” Tina says.

Lina appears to be in a state of distress when TNM contacts them. “My parents – coming from a very conventional background – would freak out even if they hear that I have been to Goa, forget the rest of the details. But an anonymous caller had told them about the issue here and asked them to take me home if they didn’t want their daughter to be in trouble. So they have come here now,” she says, even as she tries to resist going home with them.

Lina's parents want her to remove the Facebook post she had written about the assistant warden. “The assistant warden had a problem with us because we would raise our voice against some of the injustices here. Both Tina and I get grants and this would come to the assistant warden’s account; but she would keep it in her bank for several months before giving it to us. When we ask her about this, she would behave badly. So when she heard that it is the two of us who went to Goa, she wanted to get back at us,” Lina alleges.

Tina, too, reckons that this is perhaps retaliation for the earlier times the girls had reacted to some of the stances taken by the hostel. “The curfew for the girls’ hostel is 7 pm and for the boys’ hostel it is 9.30 pm. Once when a few girls came back late, they were made to stand outside the gate. They (hostel authorities) say that the curfew is for the security of the girls. If that is the case, why would they keep the girls outside the gate so late – isn’t that unsafe?” Tina asks.

The movement register, Lina says, has been a mere formality so far that no one had even taken it seriously. “It is not written in the hostel rules put up on the wall. The register is from 2013 and it is not even half full – that shows how many girls even bother writing on it. Now they are making a big deal of this correction," she adds.

The girls are firm on their stand that they want the assistant warden’s resignation.