In An Academic Community, The Head Of The Institution Must Have The Courage and Openness To Meet Students And Teachers, Respect Their Overwhelming Opinion and Not Dictate Through Media, Court, Police and Punishments
New Delhi(Press Release)The JNU Vice Chancellor and its top administrators have been spreading falsehoods about the JNU students’ protests. We reiterate the facts and emphasise the main points the VC and his cronies are refusing to address.
1. JNU students did NOT gherao the administrators yesterday, did not prevent any administrative official from leaving the Ad Block. Students only gathered peacefully demanding that the VC meet students and address their concerns instead of ‘shooting’ arbitrary rules and disciplinary notices at them and then ‘scooting’. The protest was called after the JNU VC arbitrarily called off a scheduled meeting of the top decision-making body, the Academic Council. No attempt was made to stop the Rector, or any other administrators or teachers, from coming and going in and out of the Ad Block.
2. Remember, innumerable Vice Chancellors in JNU’s long history have met and held patient discussions with teachers and students to resolve issues. By instead refusing to meet students and teachers and instead communicating through punitive circulars, fake news via social media, media, and police, the current Vice Chancellor is going against all precedent, and violating the conduct and norms that befit the head of an academic institution of higher education. He forgets that he is not a ‘Boss’ or ‘CEO’ or a ‘King’: JNU faculty are his colleagues, and students and teachers together make up the very essence of a University. If a person is unable to address disagreements with the academic community and resolve them amicably, he should not head a University.
On Compulsory Attendance
3. The immediate issue at hand involves compulsory attendance. Like innumerable decisions taken unilaterally by the VC and his team, the move to impose compulsory attendance is ILLEGAL. Compulsory attendance was NEVER on any agenda of the Academic Council, and NO AC discussed it or passed it.
4. Students are NOT fighting for “the right to not attend classes”, they are fighting for their right to learn without pointless and arbitrary regimentation, in the best traditions of JNU, that have sustained its academic excellence for decades. In fact, teachers have been supporting the students’ strike by holding classes and even exams in the open air.
5. Various other methods to encourage and ascertain that students participate in the learning process are already in place: continuous evaluation, regular tests, presentations, classroom participation, assignments, tutorials, term papers etc. As a result, absence from classes affect students’ grades, and that is as it should be.
6. JNU is a research university, not a kindergarten. Students go on field trips, attend conferences, go to libraries and archives outside campus and in other cities, as their research requires them to do. It is impossible and unheard-of for students in research programs to come to school offices every day to pointlessly sign attendance sheets.
7. Thousands of JNU students through mass signatures, JNU’s Schools, Centres, JNU Teachers’ Association and JNUSU have all written to the VC explaining not only how unnecessary but also how damaging compulsory attendance is in JNU. The JNU VC did not engage with JNUTA or JNUSU representatives as well as the opinions conveyed through centre GBMs, to discuss their points of view!
8. When the two stakeholders of the university – students and teachers – have boycotted this move, the administration has to talk to them both and address their concerns with an open mind, and not unilaterally issue diktats. This is against all established norms and practices as well as statutes and ordinances of the university. The administration has acted vengefully and threatened to stop all fellowships of students for boycotting compulsory attendance. When not only students but teachers overwhelmingly reject an administrative move, it does not befit a VC to use such coercive and vindictive means to unilaterally force his own opinion on them, as though he were a King and teachers and students, his subjects.
Gross Institutional Impropriety, Trampling Upon of Democratic Norms and Precedents
9. The present administration stands in gross violation of not only the statutes of this university, but also the law of the land. This VC has imposed his agenda of seat cut, destruction of socially inclusive admission policies and manipulation norms of faculty appointments by repeatedly trampling upon the AC meetings and fabricating AC minutes. AC decisions were never allowed to be taken as per the majority opinions of the AC. Every time the VC has seen that his steps have no support of the AC, he either adjourned the AC, or misused the chair to declare the agenda to be ‘Passed’ or simply jogged out of the AC.
10. This VC has made it a habit to impose his anti-student and anti-JNU policy, without any discussion, let alone approval, in any democratic forum and AC. This is evident from one decisions after another – the unilateral seat cut, fundamental changes in MPhil-PhD rules, scrapping of deprivation points, dismantling of GSCASH and now the unilateral imposition of compulsory attendance.
11. The VC’s firmaans lie about amendments on agendas which have not even been tabled in meetings of the Academic Council. The circular announcing the introduction of compulsory attendance is one such lie. Compulsory attendance was never placed on any agenda for the Academic Council to discuss, and no Academic Council discussed this issue. Therefore, the administration is on the wrong foot in unilaterally announcing this measure.
12. And to escape accountability, VC has now indefinitely postponed the scheduled AC.
Who Is Harming The Institution And The Country?
The JNU Administration is accusing the students that our questions and movement are ruining the future of the country!
We would like to ask the JNU VC and his bosses in the Government: when you systematically ruin the country’s best University (JNU won the President’s Excellence Award just last year, accepted by the JNU VC with his own hands), are you not the one ruining the country’s future? When the JNU VC nullifies deprivation points, SC/ST and OBC reservations, research seats, the country’s model GSCASH, is he not jeopardising the country’s present and future? When the JNU VC allows a student (Najeeb) to vanish in broad daylight on his watch without making any effort to find him, and protects the students’ attackers from any consequences, is he not ruining JNU and the country?
We the students, by defending JNU’s inclusive, liberal and democratic ethos are acting as conscience keepers of JNU and for the country. We’re waiting peacefully for you to speak to us because we care for JNU. While the JNU VC, by avoiding to meet us & by breaking JNU’s statute and rules, destroying its academic standards, research seats and culture of enquiry are the one destroying the country’s future by ruining its best University.