University hostels are supposed to be places where unsuspecting first-year students cannot escape ragging, but several colleges are trying to ensure that they become as safe as the rest of the campus is during the day. New students in several colleges spent their first night in the hostel and their teachers were present to keep an eye on the goings-on.
Colleges like Kirorimal and Hans Raj do not believe in taking chances and have put first-year students in a separate wing. "All the first-year students are in a separate wing and guards deployed at the gate. No senior student can enter after 9 pm without written permission of the warden. They also have to make an entry at the gate," said SR Arora, Principal, Hans Raj College.
Some colleges like Ramjas even went ahead and hired private security for the men's and women's hostels. And being a male student will not help bend the rules. The new norm is that even men cannot enter the hostel after 8 pm without prior permission, nor can outsiders.
"No guests are going to be allowed in the hostel for the first three months. The women's hostel is already open, but the men's hostel will open from July 20," said Rajendra Prasad, Principal, Ramjas College. Prasad said private security was hired because they were not pressured easily.
The freshers at Miranda House had dinner with their principal and other faculty members on Monday night. "The first-year students landed on Sunday night. The hostel committee members had dinner with them. This helps us develop an informal camaraderie between students and teachers," said Pratibha Jolly, Principal, Miranda House.
Miranda House is adopting a subtler approach, planning interactive sessions that will be more about laughing, singing, dancing — basically showcasing ones talent minus the element of bullying. "This will continue for the initial period. Although ragging is not an issue in Miranda House, we are not taking any chances," said Jolly.
At Lady Shri Ram College, the boarders were given a formal orientation by the college authorities on July 15. Director Residency K Kanthan said: "While the students would have all the liberty and could do things they wanted, they were under no compulsion to obey the seniors."
One unanimous verdict was on the mess food by the group of freshers. "We are all simply loving it. Coming from Tamil Nadu, I was sure to have problems, but surprisingly, I haven't skipped any meals," said Alamu, a student of Political Science. She has also been sharing stories from the Rajnikanth-starrer film Shivaji with her roommate Sapna Goyal who does not understand Tamil.
While there was no instance of ragging, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, the seniors reportedly pampered the students to the hilt. "They have been calling us to their rooms and giving us chocolates and other tasty nick-nacks," said Dilpreet Sandhu from BA Programme.
With inputs from Jaya Shroff