The other night, I had a tour of the girls’ hostel thanks to Prof. Gurmanpreet and Ritika Vohra. The vigilant gate guard allowed my entry even though I came after the 7 pm curfew because I was with Prof. Gurmanpreet. Some of the women (I will not call them girls because RGNUL is a college. Most of these women are old enough to vote in India) were still having dinner and welcomed me into the “mess” (i.e. mess hall).
Ritika (seated to my right) introduced me to “Uncle” who runs the mess and “Auntie,” who cooks and runs the “canteen” (the snack window).
I also met Jasbir Kaur, the lady who monitors the sign-in for the security of all the women. If a woman is late coming in, however, she will not be admitted until she explains her tardiness to the “warden” (the teacher in charge of the hostel).
The complex is divided between double rooms for younger women and single rooms for 4th and 5th year women. A lovely garden is surrounded by a high wall, enclosing swings and a badminton court that the women may access until 11 pm.
All rooms have AC and most have a small balcony from which some hang their drying laundry. According to the students, birds that nest on the AC units are a problem since they soil the clean laundry. But otherwise, the girls find their room adequate. Every hall has a communal washroom with separate stalls.
Several common rooms have small sofas, a flat screen TV, and a game board. No boys (male students) are permitted entry into the hostel complex. (Read about the Lakshman Rekha in the next blog post.)
Students meet their parents, who are not allowed into the rooms of the hostel, in the parent waiting lounge. Parents may stay at the Guest House and visit with the students there, but students female students must return to the hostel by 7 pm.
Every university faces a challenge in housing young adults and helping them transition to completely independent living. RGNUL’s approach is not universal in India and is clearly very different from the one taken by most colleges in the U.S. I wonder. If we did a “cabin swap,” and placed Indiana University students here and RGNUL students in Indiana, what would happen? How would the students respond….?
I give special thanks to Gurmanpreet who was kind enough to introduce me to another type of house, one right down the road from mine… but one on the other side of the world.