The students of Tata Institute of Social Science, Hyderabad, have boycotted their classes and organised a sit-in protest in front of the college gate from December 10 condemning the institute's decision to scrap the BA courses and make the institute non-residential from the next academic year.
The decision came when the students were on their semester break and even though there has been no official notice yet the administration, allegedly, has confirmed that they will not budge from their decision. "Two of our students met the administrative staff at the Mumbai campus and they were told that this decision was being taken due to the lack of infrastructure. While it's true that the institute operates out of the Telangana State Institute of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development's campus, it has been like this from the first day. There has been no change in the situation to prompt such a decision," said Bibin Sam Thomas, a final year BA Social Science student. "We got to know about the issue when people tried to apply for the BA course and could not find a link on the website. Then came news reports saying that the course has been scrapped and they will also discontinue hostel facilities. Our first form of protest was to boycott fees. That's all we could do from home."
It's not just the BA students protesting, some of the MA students have also boycotted their classes and are participating in the protest. "We haven't yet had a dialogue with the administration yet. They might have thought this will die down in a day or two and we can only expect a reply or a reaction once the protest intensifies," added Bibin.
In Solidarity: It's not just the BA students protesting, some of the MA students have also boycotted their classes and are participating in the protest (Pic: Bibin Sam Thomas)
There have been numerous cases of sexual harassment of female students who stay in the hostels. The students claim that this is an attempt to shrug off responsibility instead of taking adequate steps to assure the safety of the students. "The FIRs mentioned that these students were staying in private hostels were under the TISS management. The institute takes the fees from us and then pay for the hostels. This is a way to shrug off the responsibility," said Bibin. "There are students who are not from affluent families and their scholarships pay for everything. But, the funds cannot be used for outside accommodation. If they do not provide accommodation how will these people stay at private hostels on their own and that too in just four months ?"
The hostels are situated 7 km away and it's not a pleasant walk to the campus. "The hostels are in an upcoming commercial area. We have faced a lot of cat callings and sexual harassments. There were no concrete results when we complained," said Varsha Priyadarshini, a final-year student who is also a member of the student action committee formed by the general body. "There used to be one more campus in RMC, Gachibowli, where few MA classes were run. When we complained in February about the harassment issues, they shifted everyone to the Rajendranagar campus, but that was it. And now they have come up with this decision that is nothing but regressive."
The students plan to carry on the protest until their demands are met. "We have two very logical demands. They should not scrap the BA courses because there are no added infrastructural issues. And they should definitely not discontinue the residential facilities. We will continue and intensify the protest if needed until our demands are met. We will move into an admin blockade if necessary" concluded Bibin.