By Sharanya Gopinathan
Just the other day we said that it feels like a week simply cannot go by without everyone hearing about some dumb rule in women’s hostels. Last week, it was that women in Delhi University hostels were being locked up on Holi to “protect” them from sexual harassment.
Today, we finally have some kranti! The women’s hostel in BITS Pilani, Meera Bhawan, has lifted its 11.30 curfew after two days of student action.
A BITS Pilani student named Sibesh Kar posted on Medium yesterday, laying out the steps the students took to make sure they could get this done. He begins the post by talking about his place as a male feminist, the reasons why he decided to get involved in a movement like this and then talks about how his voice gets heard as a man because no one accuses him of wanting to indulge in immoral activities when he asks for removal of curfew or something.
But the actually interesting part starts when the post begins discussing their approach to getting this rule lifted. They mention that sometimes, protests against the administration fizzle out or operate within a framework of anger that doesn’t necessarily lead to action (which is debatable), but the students of BITS Pilani wanted to go a different route. They tried to make sure that they had statistics and feedback that the administration couldn’t ignore, and so embarked on a fairly well-thought out process of fact-finding and case-building. They first identified the three reasons why the administration wanted the curfew in place: student’s safety, student’s productivity and parental concerns.
They then embarked on a two-day door-to-door survey of students in the hostel, choosing this method because it upped their chances of getting the maximum number of responses. They were simply asked if they wanted the curfew in place, and if the curfew affected their productivity (which it did, but not in the way the administration thought it would). They got in touch with parents, and presented the administration a sort of resistance-package of facts they couldn’t refuse. They also made sure the response wouldn’t be to impose a similar curfew on men, which is great.
While I’m a bit wary of the great pride the author takes in BITS Pilani having no caste-based reservation, the post is pretty neat, in that it provides a clear working model for other institutions to base their actions or, or at least to be inspired by. Read the original post, which of course invokes Game Theory, the Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings, here.
Sibesh Kar was mistakenly referred to as Sibesh Kaur. This error has been corrected.