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'Onus of Our Security on Us': Gargi College Students Boycott Fest After Curbs

Students that The Quint spoke to claimed that college admin put time restrictions, cited 'police permit' as reason.

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“Even without men entering the college, it is like we have to keep fighting them,” said a third-year student of Delhi University's Gargi College who boycotted the annual fest along with several other students this month. On 11, 12 and 13 April, the college was supposed to host its annual fest ‘Reverie’ -- for the first time in three years. The fest did take place on 10 April but it was only a one-day affair, with few events and participants.   

Members of extra-curricular societies at Gargi college that The Quint spoke to, lamented that the fest did not go as planned. The protesting students claimed that the college administration imposed some restrictions on the fest such as cancelling an event called the 'star night' and wrapping up all events by 5 pm citing ‘permit and security issues.' 

Many students said that they believe that it was no coincidence that the restrictions were announced only days after the incident at DU's Indraprastha College where men trespassed and allegedly harassed the female students of the college.  

The third-year student claimed to The Quint “When we spoke to the administration and professors, they said that the men cannot be controlled... Even though they cited permit issues, we know that it was because it was really because of what men are capable of. When men do not enter our college, it is a safe space for us."

The Quint reached out to two Gargi professors and wrote to the college's official email ID for a response about the allegations made by the students. So far, no response has been received.

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This also happened to be the first in-person Reverie after the incident in February 2020 where men barged in and allegedly groped, molested and harassed female students. Students alleged that outsiders forcibly entered campus and allegedly groped them during the festival.

Four Gargi college students -- on condition of anonymity -- spoke to The Quint about why they boycotted the fest.   

What Happened Prior to the Fest?

A student, speaking on behalf of the protesters, claimed that there were a few hundred students protesting over the past few days. She claimed, “The student union was informed on 31 March that there would be no 'star night,' which is basically when an artiste performs. The union was also told that the events would be over by 5 pm." 

Every time before the annual fest, the students' union and the organisers do a "reveal" which is basically an event where the dates and theme of the fest is announced, and a photo booth is also set up.

"The 'reveal' also did not happen this time. On 3 April, an organising committee meeting was held. Some students and some of the admin members were present. The administration said that the restrictions were being imposed due to permit and security issues,” said a student. 

Another student, who is a member of one of the societies that was organising an event at the fest, said;

Construction has been going on inside college premise, and that's why only one gate of the college would be open. This is what the administration told us. They also said that the college could not hold the event on a large scale with one functioning gate.
A student of Gargi college

The student also claimed that the administration said that "they did not have permission from the police to hold a large-scale fest.”  

The student said, “Many ideas were floated. We suggested that only women should be allowed in but that idea was not approved.” 

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Initially, there was a Qawwali night planned for the first day, a stand-up comedy show planned for the second night, and a musician's performance on the third day.  

Soon after these discussions, the student union and many of the societies stepped down from the organising committee. The student, who was involved in planning a society event, said, “We had been working very hard for months but we decided to cancel our event entirely. Most societies cancelled their events. For instance, the Western Music society was hosting an event and had conducted their preliminary rounds before hand.”  

She added;

Only four societies eventually held their events at the day-long fest that took place on 10 April. There was a Sufi morning instead of a Qawwlli night. A few students attended while the rest of us protested on campus.
A student of Gargi college

‘As a COVID-19 Batch, We Were Looking Forward to Fest for Months’

Third-year students of Gargi College were particularly disheartened that the fest did not turn out as planned. One of them told The Quint, “Normally, we would have had the fest three times by now but because of the pandemic, we did not get to experience it for the last two years. We have just one year left in college. When I joined the college, I had heard so much about Reverie. It was only later that I had found out about what happened in 2020.”  

Another third-year student said, “Many of the societies depended on Reverie to hold competitions and conduct their events. Preparations were going on since December 2022 and everyone was looking forward to it...” She added, “I do not go to other fests because I do not feel safe. That’s why I was looking forward to this one.”  

A student said, “This is the first large-scale and in-person fest that was to take place. Reverie was held last year but only participants were allowed into the auditorium and others were asked to join the events online.”  

The student added that the event was important for a number of reasons. She said;

“Firstly, it was crucial to have a successful event particularly after what happened at IPCW this year and Miranda House last year. But at the end of the day, restrictions are imposed on us and women have to take the onus.
A third-year student of Gargi college

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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