By Abhishek Jha:
Students in IIT Roorkee called a sit-in protest on Thursday after the Nainital High Court ruled in favour of the expulsion of 73 students from the institute. The students had been expelled on the grounds of a new regulation that requires students to maintain a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5 in addition to maintaining a minimum number of credits each semester. The regulation for maintaining a minimum number of credits had been in existence earlier. The students accuse the institute of not notifying them about the new criterion when the rule came into existence last year. Two students, however, argued before the court that they meet the CGPA criterion. The court has asked the institute administration to take a decision in this regard within one week.
The students, belonging mostly to second year (the expelled students would have been in their second year from this semester), refused to go to their classes even when the administration urged them to. A notice has now been put up by the office of the Dean of Students’ Welfare, saying that disciplinary action will be taken against students who mass-bunk their classes. The Associate Dean of Bhawans (hostels) Dr. Naveen Kumar Navani who arrived at the protest at the New Lecture Hall Complex said that protests were unbecoming of students of IITs and those who have had education. He said that this was behaviour suited to non-IITian students. Disciplinary action if taken, he said, would deprive them of a character certificate.
The Dean of Students’ Welfare (DoSW) who arrived later said, “The matter is sub judice. Therefore, there is little that we can do.” What is surprising about these comments is that the students of the institute had already sought mercy from the institute and the administration, which now says it is equally hurt by the court’s decision. One of the 73 students who had cleared the JEE in Hindi medium said that he had improved his semester grade from 4.1 to 5.7 in a semester and, therefore, deserved a chance as he could improve over the years.
The Associate Dean’s comments also are unfounded. The supposed image of an IITian that he built before the students is only a social construct that feeds on rules such as the one that has put 73 students out of the institute. If there is anything that separates an IIT from DAV College – whose path Dr. Navani urged one to not follow – it is that the spirit of questioning, “sensitivity to social responsibilities“, etc are written specifically as the core values of the institute. What is not written into these core values is an obsessional respect for only one metre of academic capability.The students in IIT Roorkee are not protesting only because their friends have been expelled. The apathy of the institute towards matters that concerns students and is contrary to the comfort of the institute’s prejudices, is well-known. Members of the SAC have recounted the vehement resistance with which the decision to remove any limit on the time of entry for girls in their hostels was met. It was only when the students went to the Deputy Director that their plea was heard by the Deans and even then the entry time was extended only by an hour. This shows that the institute administration functions in an undemocratic way. The current decision too was taken by the Senate (to which the student body can only make suggestions) without consulting any students.
While Dr. Nauriyal, the DoSW, was correct in pointing that the matter is sub judice, he failed to understand that the other students of the institute still seek answers from him on the manner in which the institute is being run.
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