The JNU teachers’ association announced the public lecture series, ‘Democratising Social Justice’, to be held from January 18, to protest against administrative high-handedness.
New Delhi: In a press release on January 11, the JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA) has asserted its right to protest and hold public lectures within the university. In its ‘Statement Against Administrative Threat’, the JNUTA spelled out its intention to resist the administration, which has been intimidating faculty members with threats of disciplinary action. Expressing concern over the shrinking democratic space at the university, the statement called out the administration for unethical surveillance. “The unethical and illegal recording of activities of faculty and students by JNU administration and use of selective and unauthenticated video footage against our faculty colleagues in statutory body meetings is highly condemnable,” the statement said.
In recent weeks, the university made news again, as allegations were made against the vice-chancellor for holding the academic council meeting in the winter vacations and flouting norms that ensure the democratic functioning of the university. A vital point of dispute was the UGC guidelines from May 2016 which suggested an increase in the weightage given to viva-voce for the admission of MPhil and PhD students. The guidelines have not been favoured by the students and faculty, alike, based on concerns that such a shift will make the admission process more discriminatory. However, in a breach of trust, the vice-chancellor considered the UGC guidelines approved by the academic council without discussion, when in a previous meeting, he had promised to approach the UGC with regard to the new guidelines.
The rift between the university’s students and teachers, and the administration has been growing all of last year, with incident after incident. Following protests after Najeeb Ahmad’s disappearance, the administration decided to block the area that has traditionally been the site of protest in JNU by installing bars and placing flower pots. The administrative block, which was rechristened ‘Freedom Square’ after the February 9 movement when Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested for sedition, became the space that students and teachers gathered at for the prolonged protest that followed their arrest.
A lecture series titled, ‘What the nation really needs to know’ was held every evening at the administrative block and academics and public intellectuals came from all over world to speak to students at this open space. The lectures have been collected and as a book and has been published by Harper Collins, set to be released on January 25.
In its statement, yesterday, JNUTA announced its intention to reclaim that space through another lecture series, designed once again as a method of protest, titled, ‘Democratising Social Justice’. The series is scheduled to begin on January 18. The JNUTA also called for a strike on January 17 to protest growing administrative high-handedness.
The JNU student’s union has also called for a university strike and has organised a protest demo at the administrative block tomorrow.
JNUTA’s full statement has been reproduced below.