Reacting to the massive criticism they are facing, the Scottish Church College authorities have now removed the dress code order put up on the college website and replaced it with an advisory.Unlike the earlier notice that outlined in great detail a dress code set by the college, the replaced one simply advises students to wear clothes that would reflect the seriousness and importance of the learning environment.
The dress code notice dated June 27 had barred boys from wearing round neck T-shirts and asked girls to wear skirts that are knee length and below.
The new notice talks about the rich heritage of the college referring to alumni such as Swami Vivekananda, Subhas Chandra Bose and Manna D and recommending that the students wear clothes with a view to preserve it.
Explaining why the earlier notice was replaced, college rector John Abraham said, “We do not want any rift with the students so we removed it from the website. But the students and the parents are well aware of the rich heritage of the college and the advisable dress code inside the campus.”
The earlier notice had resulted in a massive uproar among students with a group of them gathering in front of the rector’s office, chanting ‘Go Back’ slogans.
Abraham, however, was taken aback by such behaviour and claimed that the rule was made in the presence of the senators’ council, the students’ union representatives and many others. At that time, there were no objections, he said.
“Every good college has a specified dress code, which symbolises the good education and discipline of the college. Our college, too, is known for that and the code was always there in the rules. We have always stressed on it in our various programmes and interactions with the students,” said Abraham.
The row, however, is far from over with students, both past and present, planning to protest outside the campus on Tuesday.
“When the dress code notice was first issued, all the council members were present at the meeting but when it was revoked on Sunday, no such meeting was held and the rector took the decision himself. This shows that the senators’ council is under the rector’s control and they would agree with whatever he decides,” said a second year political science student.
“We want to know what forced them to issue such a notice in the first place. We do not remember any incident where a student had to be reminded about the dress code before. Nothing was clarified about what they meant by the term “proper” with regard to girls wearing saris. Also, since when did wearing round necked T-shirts with phrases written on them affect the academic environment?” said a third-year history student.
The protest goes beyond the dress code issue and the students apprehend that the rector’s autocratic behaviour might be reflected in other issues.
“We have many other demands, including a reduction in the fee structure and making the job of the staff, who have been working for around 17 years, permanent. But whenever we ask him about such issues, he stresses he is the rector and is not responsible to anyone,” said an ex-student of the students’ union.