JU row: VC meets agitating students, urges them to withdraw hunger strike

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Kolkata, July 9 (IANS) Amid the stalemate in Jadavpur University over the decision to scrap admission test for six under-graduate courses, Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das on Monday met the members of a student union on hunger strike over the past three days and requested them to withdraw their agitation.

The student union has, however, refused to call off the hunger strike unless the university authorities decide to bring back the admission tests.

Das insisted that as the VC, he is obliged to go by the decisions taken by university’s Executive Council, the highest decision-making body of the institute, and also said he is awaiting a directive from Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi – the ex-officio Chancellor – on the matter.

“As I am in the VC’s chair, I am obliged to go by the decisions taken by the Executive Council. I might have handled the issue differently had I not been in the chair. We are now waiting for the Governor’s advice on this issue,” he said.

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Das told the agitating students he is in favour of the university’s autonomy and willing to work to safeguard their interests.

“I have approached the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the university, as I am in favour of the university’s autonomy. We are hopeful that a suitable solution could be found,” he added.

Around 20 members of Arts Faculty Students’ Union (AFSU) started a hunger strike on July 6, two days after the university decided to do away with the system of holding entrance tests for admission to six under-graduate courses.

The students agitating outside the university’s main administrative building Aurobindo Bhavan, have alleged that the insitution’s autonomy was under threat and demanded reversal of the decision to scrap the admission tests.

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“IF the VC is saying that he wants to protect the students’ interests, then he should act accordingly. The university authorities are responsible for the current situation here. So they must take steps to preserve the tradition of Jadavpur without conforming to any political pressure,” an agitating student said.

Meanwhile, a team from Jadavpur University Teachers Association (JUTA) on Monday met the Governor to apprise him about the current situation.

“We have informed him about a certain situation and certain legal points concerning the new admission process. We told him that we are worried about the condition of our students and asked him to take a decision. He has thoroughly listened to us and said he will consider our points,” said a member of JUTA.

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“We want the admission process to conform to the first decision taken by the admission committee. We do not want something to be imposed on us from above,” he added.

The university, rated one of the best in the country academically, plunged into turmoil after the authorities – apparently under pressure from the West Bengal government – decided to do away with the system of holding entrance tests for admission to six under-graduate courses – Bengali, English, History, comparative literature, political science and philosophy.

In a reversal of a decision taken a week earlier, the university’s Executive Council in a July 4 resolution said for the coming academic year “under-graduate admission in arts should be conducted on the basis of marks obtained in the last board examination alone, without conducting any written admission test”.

–IANS

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