Published: 11th April 2019
NLSIU students protest against 'stressful' system, demand no-detention policy and 70% minimum attendance
The students submitted a proposal to the admin but are unhappy with their response. The protest follows a recent suicide of a student on campus
After the recent suicide of Kanishk Bharti, students at the National Law School of India University came up with a set of resolutions to combat the mental health issues on campus. On Thursday, about 60 students staged a protest at the administrative building, following which the NLS administration promised to come up with a workable solution in the next few days.
The students have pointed out that the system in place at the law school is extremely flawed. The promotion system and the attendance system, in particular, according to them, is causing mental stress to a lot of the students on campus, especially those from the marginalised sections. In their proposal, they present figures to prove that their class strength has been steadily decreasing over the last few years. They also say that the same numbers are reflected in other batches as all.
In a general body meeting, the Students Bar Association, passed a list of resolutions and submitted the same to the administration on April 1. However, the students were worried that their proposal is not being given the attention it deserves. "The administration had said they will set up a sub-committee to look into the modalities of the demands but we think these are dilatory tactics," one of the students said. However, the administration has now promised that the committee will get back to the students in the next few days.
In their proposal, the students begin by pointing out that the current fifth year batch joined law school with 80 students and currently, the batch only has 58 students. The statement reads: "The batch has lost two of its own to suicide. Due to a range of academic and other issues, five students left the university. A total of fourteen students have been denied promotion across years, and had to re-register with their junior batches."
The students noted that the 2019 batch has lost 21 students to the 'system', which is one-fourth of the total number. They go on to state that the story is not unique to the 2019 batch but a similar picture emerges when other batches' promotion lists are also studied. "The vicious cycle of repeated year-losses, coupled with lack of attention to the concerns of such students, has resulted in the current systemic crisis. This is further compounded by the fact, that an overwhelming percentage of students with year-losses come from marginalized communities, resulting in the destruction of their self-esteem, and impeding their continued growth," the statement said.
Comparing the system of promotions system at law school to quicksand, the law aspirants say, "It drags its victims into a never-ending abyss of repeated year-losses. It disadvantages those it should protect above all.The continued academic pressure combined with the vagaries of the trimester system, is not conducive to the well-being, both physical and mental, of any student."
The students also made comparisons to their counterparts in others law schools and this is what they found:
NALSAR University of Law
Avg. No. of Year Losses - 11
Avg. No. of Year Losses - 10-12
Avg. No. of Year Losses - 8-10
Avg. No. of Year Losses - 12
The students conducted a general board meeting regarding the issues that they were facing and came up with the following resolutions:
A. A student shall attend classes of all the years with his/her original batch, regardless of the number of carries in any given year.
B. If a student has fulfilled the attendance requirement, but fails a course, he/she shall be given the opportunity to pass the course in any subsequent year.
C.Students shall be permitted to carry forward subjects from any previous year(s), till their final year, when they may have a better opportunity to clear such course(s) due to further availability of time.
D. If a student has cleared the requisite number of compulsory, elective and seminar courses, as may be prescribed by the University, by the end of his/her final year, he/she shall be permitted to graduate. In the alternative, the student shall not graduate, and shall have a better chance to finish the degree in one extra year, due to the availability of a full year.
E. If a student has not fulfilled the attendance requirement in a course, he may attend the requisite number of hours in that course in any subsequent year. He/She must complete the remaining course requirements (examination, and project/viva, if pending) in the same year. However, this may not be distributed cross multiple subsequent years.
Another issue that the students have stressed about is the attendance system that is in place. The students are proposing three changes to the system, where the minimum attendance requirement is currently 75 percent. They are demanding that the minimum attendance should be brought down to 70 percent, which they state is in accordance with Section 12 of the BCI rules on Legal Education. However, there is some confusion regarding this because there is a disparity between the UGC and BCI guidelines. The students in this proposal state that they should be allowed the leaves for external international competitions, physical, mental health conditions, family emergencies and any other humanitarian reasons.
The law school also has a system of awarding marks to students with good attendance, which the protesters are now asking to be scrapped. They instead want the same marks to replace the marking penalty they have for submission of projects. "Presently, students receive a 0.5 mark deduction to projects for every day delayed. In the new paradigm, students shall get marks for submitting projects on time."
This is the example the students give to explain how they would like the new marking system to work:
a. 5 marks for submitting projects punctually, on time. (20th January)(t)
b. 4 marks for submitting on the next day. (21st January)(t+1)
c. 3 marks for submitting on the following day, submission day (22nd January)(t+2)
d. 2 marks for submitting on the following day, submission day (23rd January)(t+3)
e. 1 mark for submitting on the following day, submission day (24th January)(t+4)
f. 0 mark for submitting on the following day, submission day (25th January)(t+5)
g. No submission will be accepted 6 days from the date of submission (26th January)(t+6)
The students have also stated that their proposal has been put together according to the Rules of Legal Education, 2008, issued by the Bar Council of India, or the Regulations issued by the University Grants Commission.