The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Monday sent a notice to Dharmapuram Adhinam Arts College in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district for expelling four women students for consuming alcohol along with their male friends during a birthday party at one of their houses. The said party took place in November 2019, while their expulsion came into effect on January 2, after the video of the girls — three of them in the college uniforms — went viral.
The notice was sent based on a complaint filed by All India Private Colleges Employees Union (AIPCEU). In the letter to the Commission, KM Karthik, founder of AIPCEU and the complainant, said that the college expelled three girl students “without prior warning, and without resorting to corrective measures and alternate punishments appropriate to the actions of the students”.
In the video, three girls were seen in their college uniforms while the fourth girl was in a casual outfit. Two male friends were also present at the said party. After the video was leaked on social media and went viral, many started questioning the morality of the women. Meanwhile, the college is said to have come under a lot of pressure to take action. In December, the college administration decided to conduct an inquiry with the girls and their parents and take necessary disciplinary action. According to the circular issued by the college, the four students were expelled for “behaving in a manner that would bring disrepute to college”.
In an earlier interview to the Times of India, the principal of the Dharmapuram Adhinam Arts College had said that the college followed certain rules and regulations that are meant to instil values in students. According to the report, the principal said that the students organised the party without the knowledge of the parents. “Though it did not happen on the campus, anybody can make out that the girls are from our college from their uniform,” the principal had said.
Following this, Karthik wrote a letter to the college and Bharathidasan University (to which the college is affiliated to), requesting them to engage in lawful and proportional punishment only, and that “public shaming, moral policing, character assassination of young girls cannot be done in the name of punishment for beer consumption”. With no response the college or the University, he wrote to the National Women’s Commission, requesting the body “to protect the girls’ education and future by ensuring the safety and education of the girls and the boy student”.
The Commission then forwarded Karthik's letter, along with its notice, to the college. In the notice from Shyamala S Kundar, a member of the Women’s Commission, the principal has been asked to look into the matter, take appropriate action as per law and send a report on the action taken by the college in this regard within 30 days.
Acknowledging the receipt of the notice, the principal told TNM that they will consult with the advocates before responding.
He, however, maintained that the decision to expel the students was fair and said that (Karthik's) letter forwarded by NCW made it seem like it was “okay for women to drink”. When asked about the severity of the punishment, he said, “We have taken steps to ensure that their lives are not affected. Two of them reached out to us and so we gave them counselling. They have been transferred for correspondence courses now. Their parents, in fact, thanked us.”