The immense romance of self-governance in the public university college campus is palpable in the culture of dissent and the perennial drive for reformation and transparency on myriad issues spanning from fans to funds. It can even be said that the distinct consciousness of rights, as well as responsibilities in the students and faculty of the public university, gives birth to its dynamism.
The students of Delhi School of Journalism have been protesting against the college administration on the counts of poor infrastructure, inadequate facilities and the exorbitant fees of the institution all year, and on Tuesday eight students were suspended for the same. Delhi School of Journalism, Delhi University’s first institution dedicated to a five-year-long integrated journalism course and India’s answer to the Columbia School of Journalism – touted to be the best journalism school in the world – started its first academic session in 2017 in Hindi and English.
In December 2017, it was reported that Delhi School of Journalism did not have a permanent faculty and was functioning with two contractual teachers for 120 students admitted that academic year.
In February 2018, the first batch of students at the School of Journalism came out with a charter of demands when the administration remained unresponsive to the issues raised by them. Issues like poor infrastructure, lack of adequate faculty and threats from authorities were highlighted. Facilities like media lab, library, and computer labs which had been promised and were basic requirements were not being provided.
On July 27, 2018, The Indian Express quoted a letter the students had written to the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University stating the myriad problems they were facing. Of the 14 faculty members, only two were permanent, while the rest were guest faculty. The letter said, “all the first-year classes started on July 20. But due to the scarcity of teachers, classrooms and chairs, classes of first-year has not started here yet.”
In July this year itself, it was reported that the students had threatened to hold a sit-in outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office if their demands for “basic facilities”, including media lab and library were not met by the end of the month. The students said, “the institute is charging as high as ₹67,500 per annum but is not providing even basic facilities.”
On August 3, 2018, The Quint reported that the students had alleged that the college administration had not utilised over ₹45 lakh in the last academic session. Furthermore, “Thirty-five students have submitted a charter to the Director of the institute, JP Dubey, on July 29 demanding a functional media lab, library, financial transparency to show the efficient utilisation of student’s fee and hostel accommodation.” The students had a reading room that could only accommodate 10 students in place of a library; classes were being held in the canteen due to lack of space and students didn’t have access to laptops. Although the authorities said they accepted the charter, no official reply has been received.
An open letter to Venkaiah Naidu, the Chancellor of DU, read as follows: “Had you seen the atrocious state of affairs for yourself, you would have felt ashamed and morally responsible to be a part of this loathsome clickbait scandal. We are future journalists, who speak truth to the power, but after all these months of struggle, we have realised that the DU administration sans ears. It pains our heart to imagine the condition of universities with lesser media attention and more autocratic administrations, if such is the condition of DSJ, a DU north campus college in the heart of Delhi.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Yogesh Tyagi, however, has remained unresponsive to the carnival of the charter of demands and written communiques by the students.
In light of the protests held by the students on the campus of DSJ on August 28, the administration issued a notice suspending eight students, while the suspension order was revoked a day later.