In another case of moral policing prevalent in Indian colleges, the students of St Francis College in Hyderabad have alleged that they have been asked to wear knee-length kurtis to college or return home, with reasons being cited including that the girls can find good marriage proposals in the future. St Francis is an all-women Arts and Science college located in Begumpet in Hyderabad.
The bizarre circular was issued around mid-July, making it mandatory for all the students from August 1 to wear kurtis that are longer than knee-length. The circular was sent on the college WhatsApp group, where the students usually receive their schedules and time-tables forwarded from the management.
Students of the institute allege that the college is a repeat offender when it comes to moral policing.
Speaking to TNM, Rashmika*, a student of the college, told that though they were made to sign an undertaking which said it was compulsory to wear kurtis, the rule was never strictly followed. “However, this time around, they made it compulsory and we were not happy with it. Because their reasons were not to bring uniformity among students but were purely misogynistic. Wearing a kurti every day to college is not a practical idea. As a representation from the side of students, we wrote a letter to the management. They told five of us can talk to the management (consisting of the principal and a few HODs) about our issues,” Rashmika says.
The student added that even before the authorities read the letter, they told the five student representatives that college was not a “place for body show”.
“The management bombarded us with a lecture on culture and morality. They told us that tight clothes could reveal the shape of our thighs and pointed out that there were male professors in the college. They also said that our parents sent us to St Francis because they trusted the college and studying here would also help us with better marriage proposals,” she adds.
Around 30 students were sent back home on Thursday, some of them for wearing kurtis that were less than an inch above the knee, Rashmika says.
Rashmika says that their attempts to have a dialogue with the management on Friday went futile despite students protesting against the diktat in the campus.
Though crop-tops and skirts are already banned on campus, a former student tells TNM that the students in the college were always heckled for their choice of clothes.
“The undertaking was made mandatory only from last year. The management had problems even if we wore ankle-length leggings or jeans without long tops, even during the rainy season. They used to publicly shout at us and threaten us to bar us from giving the final exams,” she says.
Meanwhile, the college management has denied the allegations and stated that it only implemented the dress code to 'help' the students focus on their education.
"Our institution is a sacred place where the finer values of lives are upheld and promoted. We want our students to be modest in their dressing when they come to college because that would help them concentrate and focus on their goals. That's all we have to say," a senior official from the institute told TNM.