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Law Student At Christ University Speaks Out: ‘Focus On Academic Vigour Rather Than Rules’

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Submitted anonymously:

While it looks like all hell is breaking loose with the arts and the management departments at the Bannerghatta Road Campus of Christ University, one gets the impression that college life is perfect at the main campus. Well guess again because it isn’t, in fact the main campus is just as bad, if not worse! This is particularly true with respect to the law school.

The law school recently held an open forum to address student issues, in light of the recent events. However, it turned out to be a sham of a meeting, held just to satisfy the conscience of the management. It revealed just how arbitrarily the school is run and the manner in which decisions are taken.

Students raised several pertinent issues relating to the college, including issues such as ordering arbitrary tests just before an exam. Even though a clear examination pattern is provided to the students at the beginning of every semester, and mid-semester exams were clearly not a part of it (as it is a practical subject). The management, without rhyme or reason, directed the teachers to conduct a mid-semester examination for the subject. This was done without any prior notice, and with just 4 days to go for the examination. This is in clear violation of the UGC norms which mandates that a minimum of 20 days prior notice needs to be given before conducting an examination. Of course when the issue was raised, our plea was ignored, and the exam was justified as being only a class test, just so that they could get away with the UGC mandate. This is a clear dereliction of the UGC rules, what cannot be done directly, is only being done indirectly by the management.

Every instance where the college can earn money, it pounces on the opportunity. A student’s mobile phone was lost, and when the student claimed it from the office, she was asked to pay a fine of Rs. 2000 as maintenance costs for keeping the phone for one week and for negligence. Which person in the right mind would impose such an arbitrary fine? Oh, what’s more, she was even given a receipt for it. Thank you very much Christ University.

Such occurrences are commonplace in the college. Any time the University needs to raise funds, they squeeze it out of the students. If you want your cell phone back (which was confiscated arbitrarily even before classes started in the morning), you need to pay 300 rupees and buy tickets for a Christ University Theatre program, which you do not want to go for and is probably hopeless, but you do it, because you need your phone back.

This is despite the fact that the college is filthy rich, and has money pouring in from all corners. The Christ University website states that the college has received INR 74 lakh as foreign donations, and this is just in the first quarter of the year, so that’s just a matter of three months. This is, of course, in addition to the fees they charge from each student, which in law school ranges from Rs.1,20,000 (BA) and around Rs.1,60,000 (BBA) and this is from approximately 1200 students. Clearly, Christ University is not in need of more money, however, it seems as though it’s just not enough.

Recently, the authorities suspended students who were founding drinking alcohol outside the University. What students, do or don’t do outside college, is not the concern of the university. A legally competent student who is 20 years old is capable of making her own choices. The university, however, insists on imposing its own societal and moral standards on the students. Suspending students for drinking alcohol outside college, is absolutely ridiculous. It clearly shows the tyrannical and dictatorial attitude of the authorities.

Nurturing a learning environment and ensuring academic excellence is the last thing on the mind of the management. They seem to be hell-bent on enforcing strict rules and regulations, thereby creating robots instead of independent and rational lawyers.

This is evidenced by the fact that every class has a window at the back to make sure that students don’t use their cell phones during class, which is fair, but the whole purpose of creating a learning environment is destroyed. The authorities constantly sneak up near the windows and peep into each and every class. Firstly, it not conducive for the class; secondly, it is demeaning for the teacher, as it is often found that the authorities barge into classes and snatch cell phones, without any respect for the professor in the class. The age and experience of the professor is not taken into account, and everyone is treated as a slave of the college.

It doesn’t stop at that. Furthermore, they attempt to try to listen to what is going in the class, god forbid, if any teacher is fraternising with the students or taking their side against the management. That teacher will be immediately hauled up, scolded and abused by the management. Professors have even been called rabble-rousers just because they did not side with the management and stood up for the students. Christ University feels that simply because they give the teachers a bigger pay check than other colleges, they own the teachers. Many professors have resigned due to the impervious attitude of the university. And the ones that remain are the ones who are unable to find another job, thus depleting the pool of experienced and good professors, ensuring that they leave the university.

Moreover, girls are hounded for the clothes they wear. Especially since there is a rule that prohibits girls from wearing leggings, teachers often go and pull up their kurtas just to make sure that they are not wearing leggings. This is terribly inappropriate. Why should a girl be felt up by a teacher, just for implementing a ridiculous rule?

Also, the university does not have a dedicated sexual harassment cell. There have been innumerable instances when male teachers have behaved inappropriately with female students, and the students haven’t been able to do anything about it. Raising a complaint with the management falls on deaf ears, as they are least concerned about it. Sometimes there have been outrageous remarks and very derogatory remarks, showing their complete disregard and carelessness.

The management feels that they can do anything and get away with it because of the fact that they are a minority religious institution. There is utter and blatant disregard for UGC rules and norms. The minority status is not being used for the benefit of the university, but is being exploited by the authorities. The institution is run at the whim and fancy of the management, many of whom do not even have relevant degrees with respect to the department they are in charge of. The law school, in fact, is run by a person who completed an engineering degree. Thus, clearly evidencing the management’s inability to run a law school.

It is also interesting to note that the UGC happens to jump at every instance where there is a slight apprehension of a wrong doing by a government university, however when it comes to Christ University, the unflinching silence of the UGC, is increasingly suspect.

Christ University really needs to stop focusing on implementing ridiculous rules and regulations, instead it must focus on improving its academic vigour and develop a leaving environment. It must hire better faculty, allow freedom and independence, and most importantly, allow room for dissent. Train lawyers Christ University, not robots.

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