7 October 2016 | After the fiasco of the last Academic Council meeting held in May where the Vice Chancellor was accused by teachers and students of prematurely adjourning the meeting under pressure of the discussion of the HLEC report of the 9 February incident and the hunger strike that followed by the 13 students, the Academic Council meeting today started off smoothly and rejected the increase in CGPA requirements for students of SLL & CS for promotion in the BA–MA integrated courses. The proposal had specified higher CGPA for promotion into Masters courses and for the BA (Hons.) or BA (Pass) tag if a student wanted to opt out of the integrated course.
JNUSU had called for a protest outside the convention centre to compel the administration to rollback the so-called anti-student proposals and to shed light on the agendas for the AC meeting such as the hostel allocation crisis, the introduction of minority deprivation points, and the establishment of the minority cell among others.
The VC, M. Jagadesh Kumar, arrived for the meeting just after 2 pm along with the Rector Chintamani Mahapatra amid loud taunts, jeers, and sloganeering. Amita Singh, Chairperson of the Centre for the study of Law and Governance, was also greeted with loud slogans for her allegedly ‘anti-student’ dossiers.
Mohit K Pandey, JNUSU President, before attending the meeting addressed the crowd and said: “The agendas we are taking inside, those agendas are important for social justice and inclusion and campus democracy…. The administration has to answer why the viva voce numbers have not decreased…. Many teachers had supported our agenda [viva voce marks reduction], but some people talk in their privileged manner that the data of the students is wrong.”
Bhupali Magare, BAPSA President, when asked about the reduction of the importance given to viva voce was of the opinion that “on the question of viva voce it should be reduced from 30 to 10, now JNUSU is also saying that. Before they were not saying it.”
While most parties were of the opinion that the viva voce marks be reduced, ABVP’s former JNUSU Joint, Secretary Saurabh Sharma believed that the reduction of the marks is required and that if “it can be scrapped completely then it will be the best [option].”
While the agendas of the protest were common for most of the left parties, SFI’s JNU Unit President Dipshita Dhar believed that although issues like the minority deprivation points and the viva voce marks reduction can only be done through the AC meeting, the issue of the lack of hostels needs to be addressed through many more avenues.
On the issue of minority deprivation points, Mohit opined that the “communal commonsense” of the people against minority deprivation points is piqued when there is a discussion about it. He said “they argue that this is not minority deprivation points, but that you have brought in religion.” Most of the parties present at the protest were in favour of the introduction of minority deprivation points.
ABVP has been charged by the other parties of countering the introduction of minority deprivation points. Saurabh Sharma on being asked about ABVP’s official stand on minority deprivation points said: “When we talk about minority deprivation points we have to take in all the stakeholders. It is not just about Muslims or Christians, but all others also need to be taken into account. You need a proper debate for it, there should be a committee for it.”
BAPSA’s stand according to Bhupali Magare was that socio-economically backward sections should be the ones getting the deprivation points. Also, she says, “On the minority cell we have not said anything but want the equal opportunity cell to be strengthened.”
The AC meeting however was adjourned and all the issues that JNUSU was hoping to raise could not be discussed. While the increased CGPA proposal was rejected by the Academic Council, the other issues could not be raised. Mohit Pandey however assured students on social media that the Union will follow the proceedings of the committee formed for the viva-voce marks reduction and make sure that it is passed in the special AC meeting to be held towards the end of the current semester.
Fuzail Asar Siddiqi is an MPhil student at the Centre for English Studies and works for The Informer. With inputs from Kumar Prashant, Lakhyajit Taid and Shikha Singh.