Published: 06th July 2017
No more Vemula: UoH passes a shocking declaration that prohibits students from participating in protests
Student bodies have called the undertaking as a repression of their freedom of expression and their right to protest. A representation has already been submitted in this regard
The University of Hyderabad has asked students who will be joining it from this year to give an undertaking that prohibits them from participating in protest and demonstrations, criticising the administration even on social media, disrupting classes or obstructing activities on campus. It also reserves the right to take any disciplinary action if any student is found flouting these rules.
Stating that the declaration is a routine issue and should not illicit any hue and cry, an official from the Central varsity on condition of anonymity said that it is part of instructions to the new entrants of the University this academic year. “We take a similar declaration from students for anti-ragging. It is nothing but a part of the compendium of forms, similar to what even staff has to sign when joining their services. It is easily available information that can be accessed by anyone even parents,” he said. The official added that signing the document does not mean students give up right express opinion.
However, student bodies have called the undertaking as a repression of their freedom of expression and their right to protest. A representation demanding that it should be repealed has already been submitted to the University management.
New diktat: Copy of the Affidavit
According to the UGC’s Minimum Entitlement students can form unions and protest to express their thoughts and expression. It states, “…the students are entitled to freedom of thought and expression within and outside their institution. The college/university must allow space for free exchange of ideas and public debate ..College/university authorities must not impose unreasonable, partisan or arbitrary restrictions on organising seminars, lecture, and debates that do not otherwise violate any law.”
It may be noted that other central universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and even the city-based English and Foreign Languages University have in the past come up with similar diktats where all public meetings by students were illegal unless approved by the administration. Osmania University too passed a similar directive last month when its students were planning a beef festival on the campus.
We have also made modification in the anti-ragging proforma and it was not conveyed to the students, and yet there is no outcry over it
Official, University of Hyderabad
Besides the new diktat curtailing their freedom of expression, UoH students have also alleged that there was no talk about it in the Academic Council meeting. “We have had to give declarations in the past for anti-ragging but never for something like this. This was not even discussed in the academic council nor was it intimated to us until today. There is no way we will accept this,” said Kuldeep Singh Negi Students Union president. Students who have been protesting irregularities in the admission process have added in their list of demands that this declaration should not be made binding on the students.
While reiterating that being able to criticise and protest is their fundamental right, students have said that it is the apathetic behaviour of the administration that compels them to sit on dharnas and resort to sloganeering. “We have been demanding the admission for the PhD and MPhil for the two courses—Human Rights and MMM should not be cancelled as it would impact a lot of students. Our other demand is an adequate representation of ST candidates in all courses, among the others, but so far there has been no response from the administration,” alleged Munna Sanaki, an ASA member added that such behaviour leaves them with only one option — protest. “Even we don’t want to protest and waste our time but what other ways can we make the administration hear us,’ he said.
Other central universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and even Hyderabad-based English and Foreign Languages University have in the past come up with similar diktat where all public meetings by students were illegal unless approved by the administration
The UoH official, however, refuted claims that the diktat has been placed to clamp down the dissent from student communities, in particular, the ongoing protest. “This should not be seen as stemming from the protests. We have been working on it for the past six months and things like these can't be done overnight,” he clarified.
With regard to the allegation, the introduction of the affidavit was not discussed during the Academic Council meeting, the official said that Academic Council meetings are discussions on academic related issues while the issuance of the declaration falls under administrative purview. “We have also made modifications in the anti-ragging proforma and it was not conveyed to the students and yet there is no outcry over it."