Students of BITS Pilani have finally have paused their protests after over 140 hours to resolve a long-standing issue – the ever-increasing fees charged by the institute. The students’ anger and discontent with the institute as a whole were put to rest when the whole BITSian community at the Pilani campus came together to form a human chain in the shape of the iconic clock tower that sits in the middle of the campus.
The protest came on the back of an announced increase of semester fees to ₹1,59,000 for the upcoming batch. The problem of fee hike had also reared its head before. Past student representatives had tried taking up the matter with the institute in more discreet ways, but these efforts proved futile as their issues were not taken up or keenly listened to. With this gunpowder in the barrel, it was the final increment to be borne by the 2018 batch of students that finally lit the fuse for BITSians across the country.
The underlying demands behind the protest were simple and clear – a rollback of the fee hike being imposed and no negotiations on the matter. Even as this was the week of final exams, students rallied to the cause. This enthusiasm and zeal for righteousness shown in Pilani provoked the sister campuses in Goa and Hyderabad to organise a similar protest against the hike. It was one of the biggest organised protests in the 62 years of the University’s history but it surely is not the end. Students gathered in massive numbers and extended their political presence to social media. They took Twitter by storm and managed to push #RollBackBITSPilaniFeeHike to the top of the trending list on Twitter India. The issue gained popularity, receiving support from various alumni of the college as well as from famous journalists and other public figures.
What was remarkable is the spirit with which the protest was carried out. Even in the face of tough odds, the students did not lose their composure and continued to protest peacefully, studying while doing so. The media traction gained was necessary, but was sometimes not good for the reputation of the institute.
Addressing the issue as a student leader, I said, “While the students are protesting and demanding a change in the fees structure, this should in no way be interpreted as a agitation against the institute. We are not agitated, we are not angry. We are just sad and worried about this particular issue. The act of forming the clock tower using the human chain was to symbolise the BITSian way of doing it and also to reinstate the fact that each and every one of us is proud to be a BITSian. Whatever issues we might have, we love and take immense pride in the institute and this protest was not to defame the institute in any manner.”
The students of BITS Pilani tried to show the world the right way of protesting – The BITSian way.
The student community put the protest on hold after affirmative actions from the institute and a promise of conclusion. With the act, the students have also made it clear, that if required, they will come back with stronger motivation and not back down until and unless a student-centric conclusion is arrived at.
* Note: The Students’ Union is aware of specific personal attacks being made online against the Director and Vice Chancellor of the institute. We strongly condemn these actions and would like to affirm our utmost respect for them as persons and their posts.