Published: 13th September 2023
DUSU elections 2023: AISA’s Aiyesha Ahmad fights for an inclusive campus
AISA’s election campaign is centred around demanding that the mounting fee hikes be ended, the introduction of GCASH, and its fight against “the politics of muscle and money”
For a politically active educational institution such as Delhi University (DU), a three-year hiatus in the student union elections is an oddity like no other. However, in what seems to be a return to normalcy for the university, the elections for the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) are finally being held again this academic year.
While the lack of elections did not bring a halt to political activity at DU, this announcement brought a new sense of vigour to it. Student organisations have begun campaigning for the elections, which are to go to poll on September 23, from the minute they were announced. In the elections, the President, Vice-President, Secretary and Joint Secretary will be elected.
With candidates touring around the campus of DU and campaigning in full swing, EdexLive speaks to Aiyesha Ahmad, who is contesting in the elections from the All India Students’ Association (AISA).
“Have been following AISA since childhood…”
Aiyesha, who hails from Patna, Bihar, reveals that she has harboured a desire to be a part of AISA since she was a child.
“As my father is a journalist, I grew up reading different newspapers. I saw how AISA was always at the forefront of student movements, and championed students’ causes. Reading about AISA’s activities made me want to be a part of them too,” says the second-year undergraduate student, who is pursuing an English Honours in Miranda House.
As a result, Aiyesha began volunteering with AISA when she joined DU and eventually joined the association in her first year. One year later, she has emerged as one of AISA’s most prominent faces in their election campaign.
Rising fees – AISA’s main bone of contention
According to Aiyesha, one of AISA’s main agendas is fighting against the incessant rise in fees, and addressing the various difficulties that students are facing because of it.
Under the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), AISA says that students would be unable to study for four years if the fees were increased every year.
“With DU recently even taking a loan from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), there is no doubt that the fees would only rise,” says Aiyesha. As a result, the Association has been taking a stand against fee hikes and is demanding that they be reduced.
Aiyesha, who is a part of the first batch of the FYUP, says that the students are utterly dissatisfied with the quality of education that the programme has been imparting under its Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC) and the Value Addition Courses (VAC).
Elaborating on this further, she says that the students are overburdened due to these courses. “These certification courses teach bogus content that adds no value to our education – but only take away our time from our core subjects,” she says.
On July 6, the association released a “report card” of the FYUP, which was based on a month-long survey they conducted. In the report card, it was stated that 70% of the students say that the SEC and VAC have not benefited them in any way.
“Many students come to study at DU for good quality education, but the SEC and VAC only dilute it further,” she adds. Due to this, AISA has also been demanding that this dilution of their courses through these SEC and VAC be stopped.
In addition to rolling back the FYUP, AISA also demands that English be added as an Ability Enhancement Course (AEC) and that the New Internal Assessment Scheme be recalled. According to Aiyesha, the Internal Assessment marks have been increased from 25 to 70, and students are not able to handle the increased number of tests and assignments under the scheme.
Autonomous gender sensitisation committee, rent regulation among agendas
Another main issue addressed by Aiyesha is the demand for the establishment of a Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GCASH), an autonomous body for the redressal of sexual harassment complaints.
“Students are less likely to hesitate to share their stories of sexual harassment with an autonomous organisation. This is why we are striving to replace the university-run Gender Sensitisation Council (GSC) with a GCASH, similar to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD),” Aiyesha elaborates.
In addition, AISA has also been campaigning for the establishment of more hostels on campus, as well as a Rent Regulation Act.
“As New Delhi is an expensive city, and students from marginal backgrounds come to DU, it is important that they have an affordable place to stay. It is for this reason that we would fight for the number of hostels on campus to be increased. Furthermore, we would also bring a Rent Regulation Act, which would put an upper limit and lower limit on the rent of DU’s hostels,” Aiyesha says.
An inclusive campus, sans politics of money
According to Aiyesha, the DUSU elections are happening at a critical time.
She says that the Central government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is trying to destroy public higher education through the introduction of the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). To add to that, she continues, the FYUP is making DU costly and inaccessible.
“AISA strives to resist these intolerant and exclusive policies. Despite not being in a position of power, we have been fighting for student rights, and the upliftment of women, poor, and marginalised students on campus. We would continue to resist and fight, even when in power,” Aiyesha says.
Aiyesha hopes to continue fighting for students’ and teachers’ rights and against the “politics of muscle and money” of the ruling dispensation.
“We see powerful student organisations with strong political backing that have actively turned DU into an intolerant and inaccessible campus. These organisations have even dumped their pamphlets in classrooms and forced their presence through sheer intimidation,” Aiyesha alleges.
As an organisation of common students, Aiyesha says that AISA would continue to fight against such politics, and ensure that student interests are put first.