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New Delhi: The residents of Delhi University’s Rajiv Gandhi Hostel for Girls on Thursday, September 8, protested against the hostel administration’s new directive to vacate the premises immediately – a move that is likely to affect more than 200 students from the 2020-21 batch.
Over the last few weeks, students who have been residing in the hostel as ‘guest residents’ received multiple notices from the administration to vacate the premises, so that the students from this year’s batch could be accommodated in the hostel.
The protest against the new directive on September 8 was held at North Campus’s Chhatra Marg.
The women’s hostel is for Master’s and research scholars. The total strength of the hostel is 300, of which more than 250 students are admitted on a guest basis. The remaining seats are left vacant.
In February, after the Delhi University resumed offline classes, these students sought accommodation at the Rajiv Gandhi Hostel for Girls. However, they were provided accommodation in the hostel as ‘guest residents’, despite them going through a rigorous admission process on a merit basis.
Speaking to The Wire, Kajal, a resident of the hostel, said, “We, the students of Rajiv Gandhi Girls Hostel, Delhi University, have gathered here to protest against the provost and warden. The context behind this agitation is that in the academic session of 2020-21, there had been forceful admission on a guest basis in the hostel without any prior discussion with the bonafide students of Delhi University. As a student who took admission through a rigorous process and on a merit basis, we should have been granted regular admission in the hostel.”
Their application for a permanent accommodation now stands rejected as the varsity claims they need to accommodate ‘regular residents’ for the new academic year.
The residents have alleged that at the time of admission, the university had asked them to sign a document that stated the authorities could ask them to vacate the premises at any given time. “Many [of us] signed it because rents across PGs have been skyrocketing. We needed accommodation, we had no option but to sign the agreement.”
The students said the hostel administration sent a notice to them on August 22 to vacate the hostel within a week after final semester exam. The notice stated that if they fail to do so, then disciplinary action will be taken as well as a fine will be imposed on them.
On August 31, another notice was issued which mentioned that the students who have not vacated the rooms will be charged Rs 300 rent per day.
Another resident of the hostel, who wished not to be named, told The Wire, “It is not like we woke up one day and came here to protest. We had first put forth our demands to the authorities and administration of the Rajiv Gandhi Girls Hostel, but the provost did not pay heed to our demands, rather they [the authorities] marked the names of the students who brought up their issues to intimidate them.”
The resident further said, “In meetings the authorities did not behave in a civilised manner. Moreover, when blind candidates put forward their issues, the authorities said that there is not going to be a special order for them. In a way it is also a repercussion of the New Education Policy.”
Arbitrary fee hike has been imposed on students, and considering the diversity at the hostel, it is not possible for everyone to pay the fees, said another resident of the hostel.
“In the name of being a self-financed hostel, this sort of policy measure is being pushed forward, and students’ grievances are being ignored. If the students abide by the new fee structure, they will be allowed to stay, otherwise they will be forced to leave,” Nalini from the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan told The Wire.
The students stated that despite being a publicly funded varsity, the university’s evolving fee structures have led to exclusion for many.
The Wire contacted the hostel’s provost, Poonam Silotia, who refused to comment on the matter.