KOLKATA: After resisting the administration’s segregate hostels on the basis of gender, students of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) here agreed to drop their opposition to separate women’s hostels in the hope of gaining better living facilities. Talks will take place with the administration on Wednesday to restore activities in the premier institute to normalcy.
“We have reluctantly acceded to the demand for gender segregation in lieu of securing more pressing demands,” Debottam Basu, assistant general secretary of the students union of SRFTI told New Indian Express.
The administration seemed to have agreed to rescind the expulsion of 14 girl students who refused to shift to the newly constructed girls’ hostel. Another demand likely to be considered is a hike in our stipends and a restart to held-up projects.
“Our living conditions are very bad. We stood against the segregation policy so that a discussion may be opened on our broarder demands. We want a faculty review system and better living conditions, he said.
The institute has been on the boil after 14 girl students refused to move to the new women’s hostel building, stating that they were opposed to gender segregation as an instrument of misogyny.
“We need to work late into the night with men. We are against any gendered rules,” said one of the expelled students. “Gender segregation is inimical to film-making as an art,” said a male student. “It’s a profession that needs both genders to work together. We are against the saas bahu type sensibility.”
The institute justified the explosion of 14 girl students and the segregation of hostels was meant to prevent molestation cases on campus. The institute’s director Debamitra Mitra stated that the objective behind shifting women students to the new hostel was to ensure their safety.
The women students say this approach is typically patriarchal and does not address the basis of misogyny.
The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune has unisex hostels. A former student of that institute said it was common for woman students to mingle freely with male students on campus.
“The atmosphere is so charged at the institute that students are always seen discussing films. All the students, be it a boy or a girl, tend to stay together in groups,” she said adding that it never felt odd even for students from conservative backgrounds.
The Banaras Hindu University on the other hand follows a strict segregation policy which did not prevent the occurrence of a molestation against a woman student last month. Women hostellers said that while following gender segregation the administration has imposed discriminatory rules upon women students such as prohibition of non-vegetarian food, a strict dress code, limited-hours access to the library.
While curfew hours for boys extend to 10 pm, girls cannot be out of their rooms after 8 pm. In one hostel, the curfew time is 6 pm. Students complain that while these rules are supposedly meant for their protectsion, there are no female policemen posted on campus.