Published: 17th November 2023
IIT Bombay: APPSC issues statement against institute's interim event guidelines calling it "gag order"
IIT Bombay issued the guidelines on November 14, after a protest was held outside its campus against guest speakers
Reacting sharply to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay's newly issued interim guidelines for events, which requires students and faculty to take prior permission from the administration when it comes to inviting guest speakers for discussion on "potentially political" matters, the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), an independent student body of the institute, issued a statement, and shared it on social media today, November 17.
In its statement, APPSC wrote, "The gag guidelines issued for organizing events are in effect a tacit assertion that students are not to be valued as stakeholders in this institute. The administration wants to annihilate any possibility of challenging the status-quo-ist understanding of socio-political realities. In doing so, it seeks to devalue the student's agency to the extreme."
"In other words, these regulations want our disappointments to be registered in a manner not too loud or well- articulated for the outside world to comprehend and appreciate. The raising of concerns is a potential act of defamation (and one is never sure at what the institute might take offense). When the foundations of our institutional credibility are so hollow, how can we not be anxious about our own students raising concerns?" it questions further.
The statement is accompanied by a comment by APPSC which reads, "A new set of guidelines makes clear that while IIT-B endeavors to carry out the vision of GoI, it must ensure that all stakeholders in campus remain apolitical and any event that may be viewed as potentially political not be allowed to take place."
What are the interim event guidelines about?
IIT Bombay issued the guidelines on November 14, after a protest was held outside its campus against guest speakers for allegedly glorifying terrorism while talking about the Palestinian freedom struggle against Israel. On the same day, APPSC had labelled it as a "gag" order.
"Faculty members planning to invite external speakers, or to screen documentaries/movies, whether it is part of their academic activity or otherwise, shall take prior approval from the Head of the Academic unit. However, there is no need for such permissions if the talk/content is purely non-political and has absolutely no content that may be construed as political or potentially controversial," the guidelines say.
"Students can organise events only through the recognised body of the campus, which is part of the students gymkhana, after approval of the Dean. For events involving external speakers, or screening of movies/documentaries, (the) Dean obtains clearance from a committee appointed by the Director before approving the event," it added.