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GGSIPU Breaks Ties With Amity Law School Allegedly Over Student Protests

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By Aanchal Nigam and Simran Pavecha:

The academic discourse in India is going through a reformatory period, with increasing instances of colleges and universities becoming thriving grounds for revelations, courage and dissent. With students’ voices trying to break open the shackles of fear and divisive politics and bringing to light the nuanced notions of issues ranging from merit, attendance to sexual harassment. We are definitely changing.

The recent disaffiliation of Amity Law School, Delhi from GGSIPU will go down in history as a landmark precedent.

Where Did It All Start?

Sushant Rohilla, a 21-year-old student of Amity Law School, Delhi, committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence on August 10, 2016, three months after he was debarred from his sixth semester exams due to shortage of attendance. Amity Law School, affiliated to Govind Singh Indraprastha University, has a norm of 75% compulsory attendance to appear for exams. Sushant’s “Physical Attendance Status” was 43%, as furnished by the administration, in a press conference, on August 17 2016, which according to the “system” made him liable to be debarred.

According to his family, Sushant’s fractured leg was the reason behind his low attendance. The suicide note did not state the reason behind his drastic step. The interim report submitted before the Amity panel, last month, observed that the debarment happened because the college and faculty were following the rules and regulations. The tinge of irony arises from the interviews and statements given by the students at Amity, where they’ve mentioned how these “rules” were not clear and wasn’t properly communicated.

Sushant’s friend, Raghav Sharma, also a law student at Amity, had earlier written to the Chief Justice of India, demanding that Amity authorities be tried for aiding Sushant’s suicide. His letter stated how Sushant was “continuously harassed and mentally tortured by a particular teacher,” and the college authorities kept mum, despite being aware of the same. Apparently, Sushant’s admit card for appearing in the examinations had come to the law school from GGSIPU, but it never reached him. Such was the level of cruelty he was subjected to.

The final year LLB students then challenged Amity’s decision to debar the students for low attendance in the Delhi High Court on June 5, 2018. The ALS students challenged the college’s attendance norms in court, and a Bar Council of India (BCI) suo moto inspection found Amity Law School to be in non-compliance with the mandated 648 minimum hours, as against 151 lectures.

The law school ended the semester seven days before the deadline, because of which students lost out on marking their attendance. The students had paid the price for the non-adherence of rules by Amity. The case is still subjudice and listed for hearing on July 9, 2018.

Disaffiliation From GGSIPU

The case caught fire because of the collective support of many students and institutions throughout the nation. The widespread support and protests resulted in GGSIPU disaffiliating Amity Law School, Delhi on June 9, 2018. The admissions for the next academic session of 2018-19 have been closed, and the law school won’t be participating in the counselling and admission process of GGSIPU.

The disaffiliation is allegedly a result of recent developments and student protests over the Sushant Rohilla case.

This massive, and slightly unexpected step, has given immense hope and courage to the students. Issues like attendance, uncooperative administrations, and increasing cases of sexual harassment are coming to light and the time has come for us to hack the conventional, orthodox ways and debate and discuss the credibility of parameters set for attendance, the composition of professionals who form administrations in colleges.

Colleges should be answerable for misleading students when they boast of great faculty and infrastructural benefits, and not providing them, and making the students suffer. Attendance is used as a bait and threat to compel students, which ends up affecting their careers, and, sometimes, their lives.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time when cases of grave injustice and harassment of students have been raised against the college authorities. In 2013, 230 commerce students – 75 each from the first, second and third year— of Narsee Monjee College had been debarred from appearing for their semester-end examinations for failing to fulfil the minimum attendance criterion.

In 2017, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) had debarred 15 law students for poor attendance, as they followed the manually logged attendance instead of biometric attendance. DU’s law faculty had detained around 250 students out of the total 7,000 students on account of having lower than 70 per cent attendance in December, 2017.

The harassment students have to go through because of such incidents is inhumane and uncalled for. Dissent is often curbed by the voices of “degree nahi denge, toh future ka kya hoga phhir?” (If they don’t give you a degree, what will happen to your future?).

Rules and regulations are an integral part of educational institutions and are essential in its smooth and efficient functioning but letting these parameters have a “binding” value, instead of a “persuasive” value is losing the sight of the bigger picture and, hence, a sign to beware of.

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Image source: Amity Law School, Delhi/Facebook | Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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