I recently met a rather lovely young lady, a lecturer and student counselor at the Arts Faculty. During the course of our conversation, she brought up the fact that it was approaching "rag season" and how the seniors had dictated that they carry a file (presumably for identification) and that the girls wear only skirts and the boys wear "proper" trousers instead of jeans.
I guess this would amount to the ragging in its mildest form - I have read of, spoken to and treated students who have been victims to the more atrocious and horrifying facets of this sad aspect of university life. Thankfully, I have never been ragged, and my only exposure to it was when several batchmates were bucketed when we went to sit for an exam at the management faculty premises - and this in spite of protests that we were final year medical students!
Back to the topic, I listened with interest to her indignation at how students had no right to dictate to others as to what they should or should not wear. She pointed out how most students face economic hardships, could not afford trousers instead of jeans, usually have one or two pairs of pants which they match with different blouses and couldn't afford skirts, faced great difficulty traveling by bus wearing a skirt etc.
When we met, she was dressed in a gorgeous kurtha top and pants. I was looking slightly disheveled in a saree which I hadn't bothered to starch. She asked me if I had driven to the meeting... I said I had taken the bus, and that I travel home by bus, saree and all.
But what amused me the most was the difference between our two faculties. Medical students are expected to dress formally/professionally from day one. This means the guys wear "proper" trousers and shirts and the girls wear skirts/dresses/shalwar/ and sometimes even saree according to their preference. Jeans are not allowed. Slippers are not allowed. Of course, if it is vacation and there are no scheduled ward classes or lectures we dress much more casually. I guess this is because the patients and the public expect something from a doctor - a projected image of competence and professionalism as well as good knowledge and skills.
I'm not arguing the merits or demerits of either way of dressing, nor am I denying the fact that many students face great economic hardship especially during the first few years where sometimes they literally don't have enough to eat - those are for another post altogether. I just find it funny that in the same university, what is considered ragging/harassment in one faculty is more or less the dress code in another faculty!