Published: 08th February 2020
Fee hike was decided democratically. Why are students protesting now, asks PU Vice-Chancellor
Gurmeet Singh says that the students started protesting out of the blue. He was gheraoed by the students on Thursday
The students of Pondicherry University have been protesting against a hike in the academic fee hike and the newly introduced transport fee since Thursday. However, the Vice-Chancellor Gurmeet Singh said that the university's fee hike was decided in a democratic way after discussing it with the Students' Council, a year back.
"No penny was increased in the past nine years and our university has one of the lowest fees in the country. The new fee was deliberated with the students' council too. In fact, the Executive Council and the other statutory bodies agreed upon the fee that the students had proposed," says Singh."This fee was put in the prospectus. The next year, the students who got the admission paid this gladly. There was no question of any protest. I do not understand why the students are protesting now, out of the blue," he says.
He added that the students weren't able to rationalise their stand and had hence brought up the issue of the transport fee. "No other central university in the country provides free transport. So, the MHRD and the UGC proposed that we charge some nominal fee. However, we have still not started collecting it," he says. "Also, the protesting students are all hostel residents. They do not have to pay the transport fee," he adds.
On Thursday, Singh along with a few other faculty members were gheraoed by the students inside the administrative block. While the students allege that Singh did not agree to talk to them, he says, "I had called them for negotiation and asked for a written proposal. However, the Students' Council president asked me to immediately rollback the hike. That wasn't possible." Condemning the gherao, he says, "They held a lot of us hostage and shouted dirty slogans. This is not the right way to behave with your teachers. I feel ashamed to say these slogans aloud."
He also said that he will not be calling the students again for a meeting. "Why should I do that? They couldn't have a peaceful deliberation. Now let them protest," he says. "However, I'm not against them protesting. They have the right to do so, provided they're peaceful and obey the High Court orders. Do they have the right to violate the court too?" he asks.
The protest that began on Thursday enterred its third day on Saturday. As part of this, the students also boycotted the classes. "We're protesting despite the holidays. This will go on until the administration completely rolls back the fee hike," said the students. "We are protesting peacefully. There is no incidence of violence. However, two vans of police officers are deployed in the campus," they said.