Published: 16th September 2021
When are India's top universities fully reopening? Update on protest-ridden JNU, PU, Jamia, JU here
Students across all universities raise a valid question—when almost everything else has reopened, why are the universities still on lockdown?
As educational institutes are gradually opening up across the country, several public universities and colleges are yet to officially announce their plans for reopening leading to protest from student organisations. It is noteworthy that several students enrolled in public-funded universities and colleges come from financially weaker sections of the society and may not have access to digital devices or proper connectivity.
Here is the ground reality from a few campuses across India.
Students of Jadavpur University at protest on September 15 | Pic: via Anubhav
Several student bodies such as Students' Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Association (AISA), Revolutionary Students' Front, Forum for Students with Disabilities have been protesting outside the varsity campus demanding reopening of campus for weeks. Anubhav Chakravarti, member of Students' Federation of India, said, "The university has agreed to vaccinate all students and research scholars. From the university's side, there have been some executive council meetings to reopen campus but they are saying that some logistical issues have to be taken care of first. They haven't started the process as of now." Chakravarti added, "We will maintain constant pressure on the administration. The campus might just reopen after Durga Puja vacations end." He said that 200 students have been protesting on the ground and there have been constant demands to reopen on social media handles. The Registrar of Jadavpur University said, "Till now we don't have any orders from the state government, we will move according to government orders."
Jamia Millia Islamia
Jamia Milia Islamia students held a protest outside the campus on September 9 | Pic: SIO, Twitter
Students of Jamia protested outside the varsity campus on September 9 demanding that campus be opened for all and classes be resumed. At present, Jamia is allowing final-year postgraduate students of professional and science courses on campus for their practicals and lab work. President of Students Islamic Organisation, India, had tweeted then, "SIO Jamia Millia Islamia Unit staged a protest at Jamia demanding reopening of campus. A delegation of SIO JMI leaders, also gave a memorandum to proctor, demanding resumption of offline classes and opening of campus." The demand gained momentum online on September 14 where several students took to Twitter to highlight concerns. One Twitter user said, "Why is Jamia the only university in Delhi to stay shut. Reopen. We have had enough of digital learning." Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar told a news daily on September 10 that the university has not discussed reopening the campus to undergraduate students so far."These matters will be discussed in our executive council meeting. We have already been allowing final-year postgraduate students of professional and science courses to come to the campus for their practicals and lab work. Even final-year PhD students are allowed to come to campus with a special permit. With the risk of a third wave, we cannot take any decision in haste as that would put our students at risk," she told the daily.
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union is on an indefinite day and night protest until the varsity administration bows down to their demands | Pic: via students
While a notice from the university ordered the library to be opened up with 50 per cent capacity, the students are still insisting that their demands have not been met and remain adamant that they will continue the protest. Saket Moon, the Vice-President of the JNU Students' Union said that the students will be protesting till administration brings back MA students on campus, allot hostels and give them ID cards. "It seems as if the administration does not want to bring the students back. While there might be a hoard of reasons for that, it can also be that they want to promote online education. All the universities and schools have opened now. JNU is the only institution that has still not opened their doors for the students," he said. Edexlive reached out to the administration's spokesperson, who said that there is no word from the authorities as of now and that students would be intimated as soon as there is a decision regarding reopening of the campus.
Students' Federation of India held a protest outside the varsitry on September 14 | Pic: via Parichay
The students held a protest outside campus on September 14 demanding that the varsity be reopened. Pondicherry University Students' Council (PUSU) president, Parichay Yadav, who was part of the recent protest had told Edexlive, "We have been doing this campaign for a long time. It is an urgent need now to reopen the campus. Other universities have released notifications and started calling students in a phased manner." When contacted, a varsity spokesperson had told Edexlive, "We have held entrance exams and once the results are published, we are planning to reopen the campus in a phased manner as per the Government of India's instructions." When asked if there is an official schedule or a notification regarding the reopening of the campus, he said, "It is expected to come in a day or two, we are working on it," he added.
With inputs from Prajanma Das