PROTESTS ERUPTED at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) on Tuesday, a day after 14 girl students were expelled from the institute following their refusal to vacate their current hostel and relocate to a new one, built exclusively for girls. The students, who boycotted classes on Tuesday and organised a sit-in-demonstration at the institute, claimed that the protest will continue till their demands are met.
Alleging that SRFTI was taking an authoritarian decision by building a separate accommodation for girls, an expelled student said: “There was no rule regarding segregating male and female students in separate hostels for last 25 years. This rule was made at the 11th hour, and was implemented in a hurried manner. We believe the institute is indulging in moral policing and gender discrimination. There is no freedom of expression here. A film schools should be a liberal space where such rules must not exist.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the student body of SRFTI said, “The administration has been coming up with draconian rules every other day and threatening the students constantly with expulsion from the institute, calling the police to threaten the students, imposing fines. We want the threat of expulsion and police to be removed. Till that time, the students will go ahead with the strike with the firm resolve that it will not be taken back until our demands our met.”
Rubbishing the allegations, SRFTI Director Debamitra Mitra said the institute had decided to build a separate hostel for girls after receiving approval from the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2013.
“Earlier, there was single hostel, where both boys and girls had separate accommodation. After receiving the approval from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2013, we decided to build a separate hostel for girls. The decision was taken to ensure safety of our students. We wanted to segregate the students by the end of this academic session. The decision was ratified in the general council meeting in last July,” she said.
“While the boys remained in the old hostel building, all but 14 girls shifted to the newly constructed girls’ hostel,” she added. The shifting process had begun in August. “However, 14 girls refused to shift despite our intimation. Last week, we gave them 48 hours to vacate the old hostel. We told them if they didn’t listen, they would be debarred from pursuing academics. But they refused to listen and we had to take such a decision,” said Mitra.