Jadavpur University Authorities Bow Down To Students’ Protests, Agree To Bring Back Entrance Tests
Under pressure from the protesting students and faculty members, the Jadavpur University (JU) authorities have finally bowed down to their demands. After an emergency five-hour long meeting with the Executive Council on July 10, the authorities have decided to bring back the provision of conducting entrance examination for new admissions.
Controversy over the entrance tests
In a press statement the varsity said, “In order to overcome the present state of deadlock prevailing on campus, this EC meeting took the resolutions that in six departments of the Arts Faculty (viz. Bengali, Comparative Literature, English, History, International Relations & Philosophy) admission to the UG Course will be on the basis of 50% weightage on admission test and 50% weightage on the marks obtained in the 12th Board Exams.”
The Admission Committee of the university is set to meet on July 11 to decide on the procedure of conducting these examinations as yesterday’s emergency meeting did not provide information on the same.
This change in demeanour came after 20 present and former students of the university went on a hunger strike on July 6, two days after the authorities had decided to scrap entrance examinations for six courses in humanities. By the end of July 10, after over 90 hours of hunger strike, five out of the 20 students had to be hospitalised owing to their deteriorating health conditions. According to Facebook posts from students of JU, they have been demanding transparency in the process of admission and prevention of external or state’s intervention which endangers the college’s autonomy. Moreover, to draw the attention of the authorities, students had organised a rally on July 10 as well.
After the Jadavpur University authorities decided to scrap entrance examinations for six subjects in humanities, 20 students have been on an indefinite hunger strike since July 7. They have been demanding to make the admission process transparent.
Posted by The Logical Indian on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
However, Vice Chancellor (VC) of JU Suranjan Das, Pro-VC Dr PK Ghosh and two representatives of the state government have refused to accept the decisions which came about after the meeting. According to News18, Suranjan Das said, “I don’t want to comment on the matter as everything is written in the resolution statement. All I want to say is that myself and the Pro-VC were not party to the EC meeting resolutions.”
What sparked the Jadavpur University Protests?
Widespread protests sparked in the varsity’s campus after the JU authorities on July 4 decided to scrap the process of entrance examinations for six courses in humanities. This new system which was supposed to be for this year only angered both the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) and the Arts Faculty Students’ Union (AFSU). This decision came after teachers and students of the arts department expressed their displeasure over the decision to get the entrance test conducted by external experts.
Before that, on June 25, the AFSU members had also ‘gheraoed’ the VC for 44 hours when the authorities had decided to postpone the admission test for six humanities subjects. At that time, the VC did not scrap the tests altogether, but only said that they are being postponed, reported Firstpost. However, under this new diktat, new students could get admission on the basis of class 12 marks alone. In almost 40 years, this was the first time that JU decided to scrap its entrance exams.
A JU student Ankita Bhattacharya, who is an active part of the ongoing protests, while talking to The Logical Indian said that the students were not entirely in support of the decision of external experts and said “It was once said that if an admission test happens, the papers will be framed and checked by an external committee. We do not entirely support that. If there is no representation from the departments in such committees, then we don’t accept that.” She added that even though the hunger strike has been called off, the movement is still on as the Admission committee is yet to decide on the way the examinations will be conducted.
Support from faculty
It is not only the present students and the alumni who are protesting, but faculty members of different departments also spoke up against the new process of admission. In a letter sent to JU authorities, the teachers said, “We state that if our assistance in any form regarding BA admission of this year is solicited, we will be unable to cooperate unless the stake of teachers of the faculty of arts is reinstated by a written statement. If the administration does not involve the teachers in the admission test, then the teachers cannot be a part of the admission process in any way at all.”
As a mark of protest, professors of English, comparative literature, international relations, Bengali and history as well as Philosophy had pulled out of the admission process, reported The Indian Express.
According to News18 after yesterday’s decision, Assistant Secretary of JUTA, Dr Partha Pratim Ray, said, “We appreciate the efforts taken by the EC members to resolve the issue. Moreover, JUTA also wishes that the V-C will ensure transparency, accountability and the rights of the teachers in the admission process, going by the provisions of the JU Act, statutes and regulations.”
After AFSU chairperson, Somashree Choudhury had to be hospitalised after 66-hour hunger strike, the Governor of West Bengal and the Chancellor of the college, Keshari Nath Tripathi urged the students of the university to withdraw the strike, keeping in mind the university’s reputation, reported Mumbai Mirror.