CHENNAI: “I was once sent out of the lab because I wore a small clip and my hair was mostly free,” said R Kalaivani, an alumnus of a reputed college in Coimbatore. Such regressive steps are common in many educational institutions across the state and according to engineering students some colleges go overboard with rules.
In some colleges there is an unwritten rule that boys and girls had to sit in different sections even in the cafeteria. A private engineering college in Kelambakkam has boards to this effect!
“We are not allowed to speak with girls in college buses. If a staff notices, we are gone!” said Pradeep, an alumnus of an engineering institution in Tambaram, Chennai.
Well, a private college in Chennai has left nothing to chance - the bus is divided by ropes to keep both genders apart. Sometimes, moral policing extended beyond the boundaries of the campus.
Students of a popular Engineering college in Coimbatore said the institution would work on Valentine’s Day even if it fell on a second Saturday to prevent students from ‘frolicking’ outside the campus.
Most colleges have a 6 o'clock curfew for girls. “Also, girls in the hostel cannot go out unless their parents are present,” said Nethra V, a student of a private engineering college.
While many believe that students in Government colleges are better-off, it’s not always the case. “We had a 24-hour computer centre in the campus but what’s the point when there is a 8.30 pm curfew?” asked Prabha (name changed), an alumnus of a Government Engineering college in Chennai.
However, Government college students are ‘blessed’ as there is no dress code written on stone. While, they could do away with dupattas in the campus, they had to always wear one in the mess, an alumnus said.
“They would say that the boys who served food could not be trusted!” she said.
Saranya P, who0 passed out of a private engineering college, remembers being scoffingly called ‘a very social girl’ by her professor in front of her parents because he had seen her talking to two boys once in the first year.
Shilpa (name changed) was often referred to by the staff as ‘the-girl-who-wore-leggings-everyday’.
While many are quick to say that boys have it easy, some boys are of the opinion that imposing these rules on girls was an insult to them, making them feel like sexual predators.
“Though my college did not have many such rules, even the few that they had made us feel offended as to why they feel the need to protect the girls from us,” said Ramprasath. K who studied in one of Chennai's oldest colleges.
Parents give the nod
“My daughter studies in another city and rules like these helps her in not getting corrupted and she is safe,” said 41-year-old V Rajalakshmi.
S Balagangadharan (56) said he had carefully chosen a college where students would be ‘disciplined’ for his youngest son.
Ironically, some parents said colleges were much more liberal during their time.
“We used to go to the canteen with boys even back then. We went for movies together and were grouped with boys for team building exercises,” said Mini V, who passed out from PSG college of technology in 1987.
The reason that it has changed now, according to her, was because of the spurt in engineering colleges since 2000, each vying to catch the eye of parents.
“Parents think they can breathe easy if their children are studying in a strict college where students cannot bunk, cannot interact with students of the opposite gender and their children’s every activity is brought to their notice,” she said.
“But, in an all-women's college where I did my under graduation, a staff would follow us to the bus stop to see if we were talking to boys,” she recalled.