2018 has seen pivotal junctures, and some have been unprecedented moments as far as students’ struggles are concerned.
I had goosebumps watching this video of HNLU students’ protests demanding the resignation of their VC as it did rounds on the internet, their solidarity and unity reverberating through their slogans. TISS is the most recent example, where after 10 days of protest and a hunger strike, students managed to reinstate the previously cancelled BA programme and recontinued the hostel services, and the LGBTQ+ students group of Pondicherry University, Spectra, organising their first ever pride march.
These are but a few instances which will go down in the history of campuses and universities across the country. Here is how it went this year:
Even with the paucity of funds and resources, our students have managed to come up with tools and inventions that make life easier.
A research team at IIT Kanpur is working on a tool ‘Treadwill’ that provides psychotherapy, and aid individuals cope with mental health using online tools.
Similarly, IIT Roorkee students developed an inflatable airbag helmet that exponentially reduce the risks of road accidents, and is four times more effective than conventional helmets.
In a bid to revive a dying art form, students at Enactus at Indraprastha College for Women, came up with Project Aipan and employed a group of eight Kumaoni women. They work together to revive the art form, and in turn, also empower the women.
A student issue that gained widespread attention in mainstream media was that at the Hidayatullah National Law School (HNLU) where students protested against sexist rules, harassment from faculty, and curfew timings; they got the VC to resign after weeks of indefinite strike.
Earlier this year, smashing the glass of patriarchy, DU’s Pinjra Tod protested, demanding the abolition of curfew timings from all women’s hostels, sloganeering “Itihaas ki dhaara modenge, saare pinjro ko todenge,” (We will turn the course of history and break out of all cages).
Jadavpur University students were on a 96 hour long hunger strike against the admin’s decision to give 100% weightage to 12th class results for admission to undergraduate courses. The administration reversed its decision after the protests, going back to 50-50 weightage to Class XII results and the entrance exam.
Calcutta Medical College students went on a 14 day hunger strike demanding transparency in hostel allotments after many students failed to get hostel rooms. After students were falling ill and had to be taken to the hospital, the administration conceded their demands of being given accommodation in a new hostel.
But, some protests haven’t yielded results like that of Manipur University, where the students had been protesting for over 100 days demanding the resignation of their VC, who rejoined the university despite a 85-day shutdown over allegations of negligence.
Students of BITS Pilani engaged in a nationwide protest calling for a rollback of the proposed fee hike. After series of negotiations, they received audience with the Chancellor Kumar Mangalam Birla, who promised the students various facilities for their development.
Students residing in hostels of Hindu College at DU staged similar protests.
This year also saw academic spaces taking steps in furtherance of inclusive education and social sensitivity by incorporating transgender hostels and calling for transgender reservations.
Kerala government’s Higher Education Department sanctioned two additional seats for the admission of trans students across all the courses in universities and Arts and Science colleges in the state as a step towards uplifting and empowering the trans community.
TISS also announced India’s first gender-neutral on-campus accommodation for its students.
Armed with resolve, determination and awareness, students across universities have fought back every time injustice was meted out to them. It has set good and crucial precedents, and we only hope that the next year orients more towards better education and less towards administrative dysfunctionalities.