Hyderabad: A year after the campus was closed, hundreds of students of English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad are boycotting the online classes in protest as the varsity administration is not listening to their demand of reopening hostels and library.
On Sunday evening, Osmania University Police detained 14 students who sat on a 24-hour hunger strike in front of the campus forcefully ending the strike. “Students were manhandled and threatened at the police station. They have taken the identification details and warned not to join in the protest,” said a student requesting anonymity.
“The administration called some students for the talk on Sunday and asked to call off the hunger strike. When the students did not stop the silent protest, the University administration took the help of the police to forcefully stop the protest,” he said.
In the last two months, the administration had called the protesting students three times for negotiations on their demands. “Our main demand of reopening the campus in a phased manner was never agreed upon,” said the student quoted above.
“When all other central universities are opening the campuses, it is not clear why EFLU is delaying. With the non availability of the library, hostels and labs, research scholars and students from underprivileged sections are suffering,” said a PhD scholar of the varsity, adding that, “Many research scholars had to rent houses outside the campus and are awaiting nod of the administration for access to the University.” She said that the students were aware that the COVID-19 Health Emergency was not over and they were ready to follow the guidelines as specified by the government.
On February 18, the University’s standing committee had stated that it will not conduct in-person classes till March 31, 2021. “The university is exclusively dedicated to the study of humanities and does not have science, engineering or technical subjects that require in person access to the laboratories for experiments. In view of this, the committee resolved that the classes will continue to be conducted in the online mode until March 31, 2021 after which the situation will be reviewed,” said a circular signed by the registrar.
Before organising protests, several students formed a student action committee and conducted an online survey to understand the problems of the students. While 845 students participated in the survey, 522 students said that they were in need of hostels.
Pointing out the reasons for requiring hostel accommodations in the survey, 324 students agreed that the lack of access to books, research material and resources, and access only to online material and PDFs were affecting their research or dissertation work, while 342 students cited the lack of privacy and non-academic home environment as their reasons.
Among other reasons, students underlined the lack of adequate technology or stable network connectivity, mental health issues in home environment and financial distress.
“The survey has clearly indicated that the students are in dire need for hostel and other campus facilities. We have shared the survey results with the administration but still they are not listening to our demands. All we are urging is to open the campus gates for students who are in need,” said a Masters’ student requesting anonymity.
“For the last several years, the University has been regressively suppressing peaceful protests by students who raised legitimate demands. But the students are united in the ongoing protest and are boycotting the online classes. Several Professors are also supporting the students’ demands,” he said.
Newsclick has written to the registrar asking for the comments on police action and demands of the protesting students but has received no response at the time of publishing this report.