Unusual Union: SFI joins hands with rival TMCP to protest at VBU for hostel reopening

The students said that everyone needed the hostels to be reopened and that this protest cannot be under the banner of one organisation
Representational Image (Pic:Prajanma Das/Edexlive)
Representational Image (Pic:Prajanma Das/Edexlive)

The Visva-Bharati University is back on headlines yet again. But this time there is a sliver of a silver lining even as the students continue to protest for the reopening of hostels on campus. The February 17 protest saw an unusual alliance when the Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad (TMCP), the student wing of Mamata Banerjee's TMC, joined hands with the Students' Federation of India (SFI), who are their rivals on every other front.

The students said that everyone needed the hostels to be reopened and that this protest cannot be under the banner of one organisation. "The rally and the protest has many students who are not affiliated to any organisation whatsoever. This is for all the students of VBU," said one of the protesting students. "This is about politics. We don't have enough funds to continue living in rented accommodations, neither can we travel daily from home, many of us are from distant parts of the country," he added

The protest, which started on February 15, saw hundreds of students, mostly first-years, protest at the central office and the proctor's office. "Now that physical classes have resumed, the university wants us back in class. But at the same time, the rent has gone up in accommodations around the campus. It would be impossible for us to come and attend class if the hostels are not reopened immediately," said another student.

The VBU Faculty Association (VBUFA) also demanded immediate reopening of the hostels and admission of the students in the interest of teaching and research. " Hundreds of outstation students are either paying exorbitant room rent to find a roof above their heads or have to commute daily.  The attendance shows that a good fraction of them cannot afford to do either and are missing classes. But, this is not due to the inefficiency of the administration or lack of resources at their disposal," said the VBUFA members in an open letter to the faculty. "The number of repressive measures inflicted by Dr Chakraborty, in the form of termination of jobs, suspensions, show cause notices, removal from positions, etc., show that he is efficient but malevolent," said a senior professor.

But hostel reopening is not all that the students are demanding. They said that since almost 90 per cent of the syllabus was taught online, the exams should also be held online too. "We have spent the entire year studying online. It is only fair that we get to appear for an online exam," said another student. While the protests had no direct participation of any particular student organisation and the students even carried placards that said that they are just students of the varsity, a meeting where the course of action was decided was headed by Somenath Sow, a local SFI leader.

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