Imagine being barred from using cell phones and laptops in your own room. That’s the norm at the girls’ hostel in Daulat Ram College in North Campus.
At the hostel, students are not allowed to keep cellphones or laptops in their rooms, or be in possession of these gadgets inside its premises. In order to ensure that no one sneaks in a phone, there are regular security checks and body frisking.
Outraged by the rules and the invasion of privacy, on Saturday, 158 girls protested outside the gates of the hostel all night. The hostel student union resigned on the same day.
“This rule has been around, but of late, the frequency of the checking has become ridiculous. Once, the night matron came in and checked my room at 2am because she thought I was talking on phone,” says a 2nd year student, who was among the organisers of the protest.
“We have taken up the issue with the hostel union many times, but the authorities feel that we will make nude MMSes on phones and circulate them. They think all we want to do on our laptops is surf porn,” she adds, requesting anonymity.
“A lot of us are studying for CAT; one can hardly do that in a cyber cafe,” adds another student.
However, the authorities feel the rule is justified. “We allow students to carry cellphones to class. Common landlines are available in hostel for emergency calls, and there’s a cyber café too,” says Ira Pundit, media spokesperson for the college. “All their grievances will be heard as soon as possible,” she added.
Interestingly, while this diktat is unique to Daulat Ram, other hostels have their own peculiarities. “We allow mobile phones and laptops in the hostel rooms. The things that we don’t allow include electrical goods such as heaters or irons, as they are a fire hazard,” says Kasturi Kanthan, hostel warden at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. At IIT Delhi, the internet connection in the hostel is cut off after as authorities feel students only “waste time” online.