When St. Joseph's College, Devagiri, opened its gates to female students in 2003, not everyone was happy.

"There were fears from certain quarters that the male students would lose out on opportunities," recalls Charly Kattakayam, lecturer, at the Department of Physics.

"It is never easy to break a tradition." And traditionally, the college, which was established in 1956, used to admit women only for post-graduate classes.

"The reason for taking in girls for all classes was mainly academic, as we felt there was a decline in the quality of male students we were getting," says Charly. "Another reason was that we thought we could do better at the university arts festivals."

Girls have proved them right. The very first year in which they broke through the male bastion at Devagiri, the girls helped the college finish second in the Calicut University inter-zone arts festival.

The following year, the college became the champion and are now trying for a hat-trick of titles.