‘Wear a Salwar-Kurti or Go Home’: Hyderabad’s St Francis College

Students have revolted after an all-girls college in Hyderabad mandated that they must wear salwar-kameez on campus.

Updated02 Aug 2019, 01:01 PM IST
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3 min read

St Francis College, an all-girls college in Hyderabad, caused an uproar among its students last week when it issued new rules stating that students can only wear salwar-kameez, kurtis of which have to be below-the-knee length and whose sleeves have to cover three-quarters of the arm.

This came after the students had already been previously asked to sign an undertaking stating that they will never wear crop tops, dresses, skirts or sleeveless tops to college.

A number of students on Friday, 26 July, organised a protest against this decision. They had also written a letter to the principal detailing the problems that they had with the rule.

The protest, however, was met with a cold shoulder when the principal refused to address the crowd. She instead asked a representative group to meet her in peace.

“Our principal, Sister Sandra, refused to address the crowd. She said, she will address only a handful of us. So five of our representatives went inside and the entire administration body along with the HoDs dismissed the protest and tried to rationalise their decision.”
Aarti*, Student

From 1 August, the students were expected to wear nothing but salwaar kurtis according to the new rules. But according to students, there are other problems the administration should focus on.

“There are several issues with my college, for instance, the washrooms don’t even have water. Girls contract UTIs everyday! But they chose to address a non-concern: that is to make students cover up! I mean, how does it matter what I wear? Why does my college have to police my sartorial sense?”
Seema*, Student
‘Wear a Salwar-Kurti or Go Home’: Hyderabad’s St Francis College
“Earlier we were only allowed to wear long tops. The length wasn’t really specified, but we knew that we were not allowed to wear anything that was even minutely revealing. If we failed to comply, then the teachers were well within their rights to throw us out of the class.”
Rishita*, Student
‘Wear a Salwar-Kurti or Go Home’: Hyderabad’s St Francis College
“On the day of the protest, we were told by the HoDs that wearing short clothes will take away the possibility of us getting good marriage proposals. We were even told that our ‘uncovered thighs’ make male professors uncomfortable. Another HoD then harped upon the fact that girls come to college to study and not to show off their bodies. The principal meanwhile kept nodding along. Our letter was not even read once.”
Student

A copy of the letter that was written by the students is available here:

‘Wear a Salwar-Kurti or Go Home’: Hyderabad’s St Francis College

The students have also circulated a WhatsApp message criticising the things the administration had allegedly told them.

‘Wear a Salwar-Kurti or Go Home’: Hyderabad’s St Francis College

‘Go Back and Change’

“I wore a kurti to college today. The minute I entered college, I saw the Dean the Principal and the HoDs were standing at the college gate to monitor our dresses. My kurti was about a millimeter above my knees. To my utter shock, I was not allowed to enter the premises. I was humiliated and asked to go back and change” 
Aastha*, Student

St Francis’ infamous kurti rule went into force on Thursday, and several girls were made to miss their first lectures because they were told they were not ‘appropriately’ dressed for college. The college administration is sticking to their rule – but the girls aren't backing down.

“We have had enough! Why should we cover up because some men in our college get attracted? It is a girls college for God’s sake! If this isn’t a safe space for me then I don’t know what is! We will obviously not take this lying down. We will protest.”
Aarti*, Student

The Quint has reached out to the college administration, but they are yet to respond. We will update this copy when a response is received.

(All names in this story have been changed to protect identities.)

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Published: 01 Aug 2019, 02:49 PM IST

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