Published: 30th August 2021
No senate, no syndicate: Why Panjab University's students have been protesting for 17 days straight
Several student organisations, across party lines, are standing united in their demand except for the ABVP. Here's the latest
Hundreds of Panjab University students have been protesting outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office for 17 days now demanding that senate elections be held for the registered graduate constituency. President of Students for Society, Sandeep, said “The VC Professor Raj Kumar is a right-wing sympathiser. They do not want democratic elections to be held here.” Students fear that appointed members will work as “mouthpieces” of the union government and will reduce the say they have in matters pertaining to the varsity. Members of the senate deliberate on important issues relating to the running of the university, courses and other key issues.
The protesters include various student bodies of PU including SFS, National Students Union of India (NSUI), Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Students Organisation of India (SOI) and Panjab Students Union (PSU-Lalkaar). Not just that, even Panjab University Teachers' Association has been with the student body and the association issued a statement which read, “PUTA will continue to fight till democracy is restored.”
Another protestor, a senior leader of the Congress-affiliated NSUI, Pargat Singh Brar, said, “Let the university give us a confirmed date when elections can be held in an official written letter and we’ll call off the protest. Our major demand is for these elections to be conducted,” Brar said. The students are also demanding that the university be reopened for in-person classes. However, they believe that the authorities are reluctant to open up campus fearing a large display of student support to the ongoing farmers protest. In fact, members of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) had recently joined the students in a display of solidarity.
While media reports have suggested that the management has been saying that the senate elections will be held this week, that does not appear to be enough to appease the protestors.
At present, the varsity has no senate and no syndicate. These are all considered essential components of the university’s democratic structure. “The authorities are verbally giving assurances but we want written confirmation,” Brar said. He added that there are a large number of student organisations that are protesting across party lines except for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is a student wing of the BJP.