Students on hunger strike undergo a health check-up on the Jadavpur University campus on Monday. (Express photo)
JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY authorities are expected to hold an executive council meeting on Tuesday to find a solution to ongoing protests over their decision to do away with entrance exams for six Humanities subjects. The move comes after they received a message from Governor and Chancellor Keshari Nath Tripathi Monday, asking them to resolve the matter.
Protesting students — around 20 of whom have been observing a hunger strike since Friday night — said their strike would continue until the outcome of the meeting is known. Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) chairperson Somashree Chowdhury was hospitalised on Tuesday after her health deteriorated.
“We have heard that an EC meeting will be held tomorrow (Tuesday). However, we will continue with our strike until the outcome of the meeting is known. Our protest will not stop unless authorities revoke their decision to scrap admission tests for six Humanities subjects,” Chowdhury told The Indian Express from her bed at KPC Medical College and Hospital.
Tripathi was responding to a report submitted by university authorities on Saturday, seeking his advice to resolve the ongoing impasse.
In his reply, Tripathi asked authorities to abide by the decision of the executive council. He also asked Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das to use his power as per the statute of the university to take necessary action.
“In his response to the letter submitted by the Jadavpur University authorities, the governor has written, ‘In view of the fact stated in your letter and provisions in the Jadavpur University act, statute and regulation, it is apparent that the vice-chancellor has to abide by the decisions of the executive council of the university. It is needless to say that in case of any exigency, you, as the vice-chancellor, are empowered under the provisions of the act, the statute and regulation to take such action as may be necessary.’ He sent his written reply on Monday evening,” said a Raj Bhawan spokesperson.
Governor, V-C appeal to protesting students
The governor also made an appeal to students to lift their strike to uphold the prestige of the university.
“The Hon’ble Governor Shri Tripathi as Chancellor of Jadavpur University is concerned about the high reputation of the University as also the well-being and health of the students of the University, who are on hunger strike. He has already replied to the letter of the Vice-Chancellor on the issues involved. Hon’ble Governor appeals to the students of Jadavpur University to uphold the prestige of the University and withdraw the strike so that the situation returns back to normalcy,” read a statement issued by his press secretary Manab Bandyopadhyay.
Earlier in the day, Das had met the protesting students and urged them to withdraw their hunger strike. Das told them that he was duty bound to implement the decision of the executive council, which is the highest decision-making body of the institute.
“As long as I am occupying the V-C’s chair, I have to go by the decision taken by the EC. What I feel about the issue on a personal level doesn’t matter. However, I do have the interests of the students in mind,” he told the students.
The vice-chancellor, who was accompanied by Pro V-C Pradip Ghosh, said the university will take every step to monitor the health condition of the students observing hunger strike.
Philosophy dept writes to authorities
Meanwhile, faculty members of the Philosophy department announced that they would not take part in the new admission process, to protest the decision to scrap admission tests.
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.”
Earlier, faculty from the departments of English, comparative literature, international relations, Bengali and history had opted out of the admission process to mark their protest.
Meetings with Tripathi
On Monday, a delegation of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) met the Governor at Raj Bhawan and prayed for his intervention.
“We have placed our logic before him to uphold the academic autonomy of the university. We want decisions taken by the admission committee to be implemented,” said JUTA assistant secretary Partha Pratim Ray.
The committee had taken a decision to take into account board results for 50 per cent of the score and use admission test results for the other 50 per cent.
CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty too met Tripathi. “I have requested him to look into the matter as the Chancellor of the university so that a solution is found to end the impasse,” he said.