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JNU partially rolls back hostel charges

Teachers complain not being told about meeting venue change

By The Telegraph in New Delhi

  • Published 13.11.19, 7:54 PM
  • Updated 13.11.19, 7:54 PM
Former JNU students' union president N. Sai Balaji in a tweet said the administration was hoodwinking students through the partial roll-back, and that 95 per cent of the hike still remained.
Former JNU students' union president N. Sai Balaji in a tweet said the administration was hoodwinking students through the partial roll-back, and that 95 per cent of the hike still remained. Telegraph file photo

JNU on Wednesday partially rolled back a hostel fee hike announced last week amid growing tension between the university administration and the students community.

The announcement of the rollback was made by the Union human resource development ministry's higher education secretary R. Subramanyan, who asked the striking students to go back to class.

“JNU Executive Committee announces major rollback in the hostel fee and other stipulations. Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS (economically weaker section) students. Time to get back to classes," Subramanyan tweeted after the university’s executive council meeting got over where the decision was made.

But former JNU students' union president N. Sai Balaji in a tweet said the administration was hoodwinking students through the partial roll-back, and that 95 per cent of the hike still remained. "The HRD Secretary tweet on "Major Roll Back' of fee hike is misleading! In order to save their face and create a false narrative, JNU admin in collusion with Modi Government is fooling students and people of this country! Here is a point to point reply!” he tweeted.

At the heart of the latest controversy was the hike in hostel and mess charges, which the students claimed was a way adopted by the university to move towards privatisation.

According to revised hostel charges, the administration had introduced a service charge of Rs 1,700 and increased the one-time security deposit from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000. For single-seater room the rent was increased from Rs 20 to Rs 600 and for double-seater room it was increased to Rs 300 from the earlier Rs 10.

The slow build-up of differences between the students and the administration came to the fore on Monday when thousands of students staged a massive demonstration outside the AICTE office here where the JNU convocation was being held and Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu was present. HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who too was one of the guests, was held up inside the building due to the siege like situation outside.

Police used water cannons and baton charged to scatter the protesting students.

The administration’s estrangement is not unique to JNU students or a section of teachers. 

A section of teachers has accused the university administration of bypassing norms on Wednesday by conducting its executive council meeting at a location far away from the campus, leaving behind a few of its faculty members, who were not told about the venue change in time. 

The teachers could not attend the EC meeting.

The council meeting, which customarily takes place on the campus, was allegedly held at the Association of Indian Universities office at ITO, 16 km away from the campus.

Faculty members who reached the meeting venue on campus said it was “bizarre” when they found their peers missing.

The three faculty members and five deans who were thus stranded later circulated a note among their colleagues narrating how they were deprived of their right to participate in the important meeting.

“The three elected members along with five other deans reached the venue at 10.00 am to find a no-show by the vice-chancellor and his team of rectors and registrar. Nor were the external members present. We tried to call the registrar and the VC’s office but we did not get any communication. We waited till 10.40 am without any news from the administration confirming the holding of the meeting,” the note read.

Around 11.15 am, according to the letter, the members were approached by a security official who asked them to accompany him to the changed venue without revealing the location. The members only got any official communication from the administration at 12.10 pm in an email which asked them to reach the AIU office near Bal Bhavan at ITO by 12.30 pm.

“It was obviously not possible for the three of us to make our way to the meeting 18 km away through the Delhi traffic in 20 minutes. In this way, we, the elected members, were deprived of their right to participate in the deliberations of the executive council on important matters concerning the university,” the letter, signed by EC members Sachidanand Sinha, Moushumi Basu, and Sharad Pralhad, said.

Sinha, a professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development in the university, told this website that he has written to the registrar and the VC to reconvene the meeting and follow the due procedure.

“The pertinent question is why the administration is not listening to and engaging with the students. We were not told of the change in venue, hence we do not know what transpired at the meeting. This is the kind of respect the JNU administration has towards the members of the council,” Sinha said.

“Only if the vice-chancellor had some imagination that he has to take care of every section of the population at the institute, he would know what it means to be a ‘kulpati’. What is his role? He doesn’t talk to students, doesn’t talk to teachers. To me this is great matter of concern.”

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