The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday decided to rollback the hike partially in hostel fees following protests by students for 16 consecutive days. The Executive Council, in its 283rd meeting, decided to drop the contentious provisions regarding curtailed library timing and dress code. Similarly, it also curtailed the charges for hostel rooms, security deposit and utility charges.
In a press statement, Registrar Pramod Kumar said that room rent for single seater rooms will be Rs 600 per month, whereas, the charge for below poverty line students will Rs 300. Similarly, the charges for double seater rooms will Rs 300 and Rs 150 for BPL students. However, the new chart also imposes new charges such as service charges. However, the statement remained unclear on last day for paying the mess dues. The draft hostel manual had stated that the residents should clear the dues by 15th of every month failing which they will be charged a fine of Rs 50 per day.
New Changes approved by JNU Executive Council
Dissenting EC members Not Consulted
The decision was taken amidst the high drama within the campus as the venue for Executive Council's meeting was changed last minute. Even the members of the council did not know about the sudden change. Talking to NewsClick, Sachidanand Sinha, an Executive Council member, said that they were not informed about the sudden change in timing and venue of the meeting. He said, “When we reached the convention centre to attend the meeting, we were aghast to see that no person from the university administration was available there and we had no clue about the changed schedule.”
In a press statement, Executive Council members Moushumi Basu and Baviskar Sharad Prahlad said, “The three elected members along with five other Deans reached the venue at 10.00 to find a no-show by the Vice Chancellor and his team of Rectors and Registrar. Nor were the External members present. We tried to call the registrar and the VC’s office but we did not get any communication. We waited till 10.40 without any news from the administration confirming the holding of the meeting. It was clear from the lack of preparedness in terms of the usual arrangements that an Executive Council meeting demands, that a decision had probably been taken to not have the meeting at the venue. However, we as members of the Executive Council had not been informed of the change in venue.”
What was more bizarre was the fact that around 11.15, some of the members were approached by a security official, who asked them to accompany him to an undisclosed location, without any official communication of the same. It added, "It was obviously not possible for the three of us to make our way to the meeting 18 km away through the Delhi traffic in 20 minutes.”
“In this way, we the elected members were deprived of their right to participate in the deliberations of the Executive Council on important matters concerning the university,” it read further.
Changes not acceptable without proper consultations, says JNUSU
The latest changes in the approved hostel manual did not elicit any desired response from Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU). Aishe Ghosh, president, JNUSU, told NewsClick that the new changes were not acceptable, as they were made without any consultation with the students’ bodies. She said, “We have already made clear that the changes will not be accepted as the student representatives were not consulted. JNUSU will continue its strike.”
A press statement by JNUSU read, “Moments ago, we came to know through news agencies and social media that the EC meeting held today in most discreet of manners outside campus without student representation has come out with a proposed gimmick of partial rollback. The university administration could not stoop lower when it comes to communicating to their own students. While any attempt from our side to talk has not been responded to, national media has become the source of communicating between admin and students. The students unanimously reject this proposal that has entirely alienated students from the decision-making process and has refused to recognise their right to influence the decisions that in term influences their entire academic life.”
After the turn of events on November 13, JNU Teachers’ Association reiterated its demand for “withdrawal of the hike in charges and the stepping down of the VC”.
A statement issued by JNUTA read: “The increase in monthly charges for most students will remain at around Rs 3000. This will be an exorbitant increase for several students even if they are not in the BPL category as many low income households are not counted in that category. Even for BPL category students, the increase in charges will be to the order of Rs. 1500 per month immediately—a burden which no BPL household can possibly bear. Clearly, therefore the changes announced today are purely cosmetic and do not even remotely address the problem that JNU will be shutting its doors to students from underprivileged backgrounds through the hike in hostel charges.”