At Jadavpur University I Saw How Academics Wasn’t Affected By Dissent

Posted by Debolina Bal in Campus Watch
April 22, 2017
This story is part of Campus Watch’s series #QuestionYourCollege where students from across the country are talking about how free their campuses are, based on curriculum, infrastructure, campus environment, etc. If you want to share issues that plague your campus, send us a 360 degree assessment, or tell us how your college is doing things right, write to us at [email protected]

As a student aspiring to study literature, to study in Jadavpur University was purely an academic dream because it’s one of the best places to study English Literature in Asia. But, it is after becoming a student of this university, I learnt that there’s so much more to it.

Jadavpur University is a citadel that carefully nurses and nurtures freedom of expression. It is one of those universities in India, the mention of whose name evokes images of free and non-partisan thinking and activity.

As soon as you enter the gates, you know every single opinion matters and is important in creating change. It is this same place which showed the power of student movements in recent years by connecting students all over India during the Hokkolorob movement in 2014. It was a movement to protest against the casual attitude to an alleged case of molestation on campus and police brutality against students who protested nonviolently.

The public state university has two campuses – the main campus at Jadavpur and another in Salt Lake. The University has 36 departments, with 21 interdisciplinary schools and 40 centres of study. It offers 39 undergraduate programmes, 57 postgraduate, and courses for masters in philosophy, PhDs and diplomas. Each department has its own, well-stocked departmental library, besides the central library, which is the third largest library in West Bengal and provides for all the departments. Jadavpur University ranks between 501th-600th by World University Rankings 2017 and 99th by BRICS and Emerging Economies 2017.

Both the campuses of the university has residential facilities for boys and girls. It is a liberal campus and has no dress code. Though the environment of the campus and hostels are quite liberal, the number of occupancies for women is less than that of men. Also, a major problem faced by both residential and non-residential students of the university is the absence of an infirmary or an on-campus pharmacy. But, the student bodies are trying to appropriate from the administrative departments to set up a 24×7 pharmacy on the campus.

Both the campuses have sports facilities – there are two cricket grounds, two football pitches, two basketball courts, one netball court, four volleyball courts, one tennis court, one badminton court, table tennis tables on both the campuses and a 300m athletics track. The university also has 12 proactive clubs and societies to help students hone their skills and gain wider exposure. They are the photographic club, music club, art and literary society, mountaineering and hiking club, drama club, quiz forum and debating society, karate club, science club, chess club, painting club, film society and environment groups.

Jadavpur University also has its own publication house – Jadavpur University Press and Publication House – which publishes theses of research scholars and Bengali translations of famous literary texts. Jadavpur University also has its own radio channel that operates from the main campus, 90.8 RadioJU.

Jadavpur University is one of those campuses in India where the students have active participation in the administrative processes of the institution. Each faculty has a student representative body known as a union which are annually elected by the students after a popular and interactive campaign. The campus encourages political thinking and criticism and has numerous student parties echoing a pluralistic atmosphere.

The college has an anti-ragging cell and a sexual harassment cell. Even though such a cell is present, its work, at least in the administrative area can be lackadaisical. This is where the participation of students and their ability to protest becomes crucial in procuring justice. Currently, the students of the campus are trying to obtain official permission to form a gender sensitization, and anti-sexual harassment cell with elected student representatives to look into complaints against sexual harassment with measures more suitable to students and sensitize them towards gender equality on campus. Though the cell is yet to materialize, a notable step towards gender sensitization has been taken by the installation of sanitary pad vending machines at a few, easily accessible places on the campus.

Jadavpur University is a place where one learns to accept individuals in all their glory. Everyone has a place here, be it persons with disabilities or the critically marginalized LGBTQ community. Both students and staff are always ready to offer help and opportunities to persons with disability to pursue their academics conveniently. The campus is free and highly accepting of the LGBTQ community and is vehemently against the Section 377. Recently, on Valentine’s Day, a poster making competition to repeal Section 377 and celebrate all forms of sexuality was organised on the campus by one of the students’ bodies.

Thus, JU is a place where students grow as individuals and contribute in their own small ways to an enlightened and free society that has been moulded to ask questions. The autonomy of the campus, cherished by both students and professors, do not just build an academically sound, but also a critically active atmosphere.

It is where anyone with a say on the issues – undermined Dalits or the marginalized queer or the autonomy of education or the abuse of tribals – can belong.
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Image source: Shubhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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