Published: 15th October 2019
Why were JNUSU, JNUTA kept out of 'top-secret' Academic Council meeting?
Even though the Delhi High Court had directed the administration to include the JNUSU representatives in their meetings, the current cabinet was not allowed again, this time
The JNU Students' Union was once again left out of the 152nd Academic Council meeting of the Jawaharlal Nehru University held on October 15. Despite a Delhi High Court ruling earlier this year stating that the JNUSU must be allowed to attend the academic council meetings, the Union was yet again not summoned for the meeting.
This time though. not even the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) was also not allowed to sit through the meeting — after the Secretary was initially invited and was then asked to leave. It is unclear what transpired at the meeting or what decisions have been passed.
The JNUSU protested while the AC meeting was going on and have also submitted a letter to the VC's personal secretary. "Even if we are given the minutes of the meeting, we refuse to accept it. We should be present when decisions regarding our academics and our life here are being made. We have submitted the letter and expect a response. If we don't get a response, we have to take the issue to court again," Aishe Ghosh, the President of the JNUSU said.
JNUTA prof asked to sign and leave
According to a statement by the JNUTA, their Secretary Avinash Kumar was initially allowed inside and his attendance was marked but he was asked to leave within the next few minutes. The professor was told the order came from the 'highest authority'. In solidarity, Professor Sachidanand Sinha who is also a member of the JNU Executive Council, went on to boycott the meeting in protest. "The Teachers Association of JNU strongly condemns the action of the VC and wants to warn the administration that the sole responsibility of all decisions that are contrary to the interest of students and teachers in the AC meeting will rest with the Vice-Chancellor. The TA will take all the political and legal resources at its command to resist this authoritarian and unconstitutional behaviour of the administration," the JNUTA in its statement said.
Why is the Union left out in the cold?
It was during the former JNUSU President Geeta Kumari's period that the Union was stopped from attending the academic council meetings. The meeting includes discussions on new academic programmes, admission norms for the upcoming academic sessions, the conduct of exams and other student-related issues. The JNUSU representatives, JNUTA representatives, Chairpersons from the departments on campus are some of those who are required to be present at the meeting.
To protest against their exclusion, the students gathered outside the AC meeting's venue and raised their objection vocally. "The Chairperson of Social Medicine and Community Health came and asked us what we were protesting against us and was shocked to find out that the academic council meeting was on. He had no clue. Many Chairpersons and professors were not invited and they are usually the ones who dissent at these meeting, "Ghosh said.
Are they going to go back to the Delhi HC?
In case the administration continues to keep certain people out of the meeting, the JNUSU President said that like the previous Unions, they would also go to court. "We have submitted letters to almost every authority on campus and informed everyone about what is happening. We will not accept any of the decisions taken at this meeting, in our absence," Ghosh confirmed.
"This is the type of democracy the VC speaks out where only the VC is allowed to speak and take decisions. The office bearers also tried to submit a letter on behalf of the JNUSU to the VC but as we always know he ran away from even receiving our letter. Later the letter was submitted at his office," the JNUSU said.
What did they want to raise at the Academic Council?
The JNUTA listed out the issues that it discussed in its General Body meeting to be presented at the AC meeting. This included decisions on issues in the campus being 'outsourced' to the VC's hand-picked committees such as the JNUEE and the way it was conducted resulting in horrifying experiences for several candidates. The JNUTA also criticised the NC unilateral decision to outsource the making of the question papers to the NTA.
"The decision of the JNU administration to declare the establishment of a new School of Indian Traditional Music and Dance on July 31, 2019 without bringing or discussing the matter at the Academic Council is a blatant violation of the JNU Statutes, Ordinances, and best practices," the statement also pointed out. Another recommendation that the JNUTA wanted to make was that the JNU Academic and Executive Councils must reconsider their decision regarding the revision of the JNU academic calendar and must place it for wider discussion.