Politics

JNU Academic Council Members Press For More Inclusive Decision-Making

In a letter to the vice chancellor, members of the academic council have demanded that the council’s meeting be reconvened for more inclusive participation and decision-making.

A student walks by the administrative block, the site of protest in JNU. Credit: Twitter

A student walks by the administrative block, the site of protest in JNU. Credit: Twitter

Members of the academic council in JNU have written to the vice chancellor, Jagadesh Kumar, demanding that the 142nd academic council be reconvened.

They have argued that holding the council meeting during the winter vacations – when many members are away – betrays the administration’s determination to limit participation and thereby, opposition.

The letter expresses concern over the fact that the administration has not allowed voices of disagreement to be heard.

As Rajat Datta, professor at the centre for historical studies and one of the signatories of the letter, told The Wire, “The main problem is that what has been considered decided was not discussed.”

Other issues raised in the letter were that the minutes of the previous academic council meeting were not recorded correctly. Datta said that instances of opposition were not recorded.

Two of the most controversial issues discussed in the meeting were the admission procedure of students as per the new UGC guidelines (which students have objected to) and the appointment of new faculty members.

Ranjani Mazumdar of the school of arts and aesthetics wrote on The Wire yesterday that the vice chancellor had agreed to approach the UGC about its gazette notification to change the admission procedure, but the press release stated that the council had approved the new UGC guidelines. This was despite the fact that the members thought the new guidelines were against principle of social justice that is central to JNU’s ethics.

According to the Indian Express, eight students were also “immediately” suspended by the administration for protesting at the academic council. Their hostel facilities have also been taken away as per the report.

Datta said, “The university administration is trying to create a situation where issues will be passed without any kind of debate or discussion or consensus. The administration seems to want to pass matters quickly, sometimes without opposition ­– and almost surreptitiously, even.”

Mazumdar wrote yesterday, “If this continues JNU will soon join all the other universities in India wrecked by despotic administrators.”

JNU’s administration under Kumar has seen a lot of friction with the university community – especially the students and the teacher’s union. With every issue, suspicion and mistrust of the administration has been growing.

Today, Nivedita Menon, professor at the school of international studies has been issued a warning from the registrar to not hold public meetings with students in the administrative block of the building, as per a Facebook post by her colleague Ayesha Kidwai.

The letter to the vice chancellor has been reproduced here.

Letter to the Vice Chancellor from Members of the Academic Council of JNU by The Wire on Scribd