Published: 05th June 2018
No admission help for Dalit students as UoH bans student-run helpdesks
UoH has banned student organisations from setting up helpdesks and has also warned applicants from seeking any help from them, failing which they will be disqualified for admission
The University of Hyderabad's decision to ban helpdesks set by student organisations like the Ambedkar Student Association (ASA) has left students fuming. The ASA has been setting up these helpdesks since 1993 in order to help students from marginalised communities who face issues during the admission procedure. However, the bigger reason why these helpdesks are set up is for the ASA to keep a check on whether the University is keeping to the reservation policy.
The UoH administration is believed to have issued a circular to the effect that all helpdesks set up by students during admission time stand banned. The ASA usually puts up banners advertising these helpdesks along with the phone numbers of students in the Union and the Association for the parents and students to call for enquiries. The administration has also strictly asked the students not to put up these banners, "We would hang these banners with the phone numbers near the admission centre but now they are saying we can't even do that," he explained. Even though the ASA was the first to start the helpdesks, over the last few years, other students organisations like the ABVP and SFI have also been putting them up.
Understandably, the members of the ASA are saying this new move by the University is an attempt to prevent students from marginalised communities to be a part of the campus. "The students coming from marginalised communities or those who come from far-flung regions can find the campus quite intimidating. They sometimes struggle with the language or they might not have the slightest clue about how to go about the admission process, so we help them with these problems. From explaining the step-by-step procedure to helping them gather all their documents to taking them around campus, we help them in whatever way they can," explained Sreeraj P, the UoH Student Union President.
What is particularly unfortunate is that the administration has not only banned the helpdesks and the banners, they have also sent a message to all the applicants that in case they avail the help of the Associations they will be disqualified.
The student leader said that sometimes the applicants don't know about documents like the caste or community certificate and the income certificate and the Association helps them procure these documents in order to avail scholarships and other facilities. "Many of the students from marginalised communities don't even have a laptop or internet or even a smartphone at home. Some come from very distant villages in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh or even outside the State and have language constraints. They are not aware of the benefits they can apply for or don't know how to ask about it," he explained.
Sreerag says that the University doesn't have the manpower to tend to so many applicants' needs and that's why the helpdesks are so integral to the admission process. Sometimes, the Association even goes to the extent of helping students financially if they find that the applicant is facing difficulty, Sreerag himself approached these desks when he was joining, "Even when I came for admission I did not have any money but members of the ASA helped me. We do the same for others in need too," he added.
What is particularly unfortunate is that the administration has not only banned the helpdesks and the banners, they have also sent a message to all the applicants that in case they avail the help of the Associations they will be disqualified."This sort of ban goes against the constitutional rights of the marginalised. The administration is scared of Ambedkar and his ideologies, they're scared of Rohit Vemula, which is why they are finding ways to erase their presence on campus. This is nothing but a casteist move on the part of the University," Sreerag feels.