Merely Verbal Assurances Will Not Suffice, AUDFA Demands Proactive Action to ‘Save the University’
AUDFA’s protest demonstration at Karampura Campus of AUD, on 5th September.
The Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association (AUDFA) has launched concerted efforts to protest several issues concerning the varsity’s administration. It should be noted that the faculty members held another protest demonstration on Teacher’s Day against sustained administrative apathy regarding AUDFA’s charter of demands, highlighting issues of poor infrastructure, shrinking academic freedom, deteriorating academic standards, and admissions in the university. A meeting was held between the protesting faculty and the AUD administration on September 11, 2023.
AUDFA’s press release provides an overview of the issues discussed and the decisions announced by the university administration. The Association has alleged that while some administrative issues were duly considered and verbal assurances were made in their regard, many other important issues, including the hasty adoption of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), decreasing admission numbers, and the varsity’s declining academic rankings did not get due consideration.
AUD Administration’s Assurances
The press release states that the vice chancellor (VC) agreed to route the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) through the University Internal Quality Assurance Committee as well as constitute a new committee to deal with many pending issues. AUDFA’s charter of demands included the “arbitrary interpretations of vaguely notified service rules” as a serious concern for teaching and non-teaching staff at the varsity. In this regard, the VC has agreed to hold a discussion with the faculty regarding an earlier draft of service rules published in 2019.
It further mentioned, “On matters of station leave, the VC agreed that this should be intimation to Dean only and not VC, as demanded by AUDFA. On LG’s permission for foreign travel for senior faculty, the administration maintained that such permission would only be required for academic and official purposes. In contrast, for personal travel, VC would negotiate the sanctioning at the university level.”
Instead of heeding the faculty association’s demands of appointing a dedicated Dean of Academic Services, a position currently held by the university’s VC, Prof. Anu Singh Lather, the university administration offered to appoint two deputy deans to deal with long delays and lack of transparency in the Academic Service Office.
AUDFA press release states, “AUDFA believes that since Deputy Deans have almost no power at present, this will not help resolve the matter.”
The university administration assured the faculty that these changes would be notified in official notifications.
Issues Pending Redress
The faculty members have previously raised alarm about opening old cases of advance increments, grade pay and recoveries, and “ensuing” harassment. AUDFA alleges these concerns were sidestepped in the recent meeting, claiming that several audits have flagged these issues. The faculty association claims that the opening of the old selection committee process by auditors is by no means a standard practice. Moreover, despite the opening of these cases, no faculty members were reportedly given any individual hearings. The association worries that the administration interprets the facilitative clauses in opposition to the faculty’s interests.
The AUDFA had raised the important issues for the reconstitution of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) as per rules and the constitution of a grievance redressal committee for the faculty, for which the administration didn’t offer any concrete assurances.
Other Loose Threads
AUDFA’s press release highlights the university’s shared data on the number of NOCs and travel grants sanctioned to faculty members without mentioning the faculty's complete number of applications, including the rejected ones.
Regarding the issue of the shoddy condition of infrastructure in the varsity’s campus, the press release states, “The administration further cited a figure of Rs 15 crore spent on infrastructure without giving any details on whether this amount has been spent on development of academic infrastructure, or on beautification of higher administrative offices located in the heritage wing of the university.”
Photographs from AUD’s Kashmere Gate Campus
NewsClick reached out to the AUD administration to seek their response on the developments related to the faculty's demands and protests. Still, no response was received at the time of this publication. The report will be updated if any response is received.
The AUDFA statement reiterates that while it appreciates the university’s decision for dialogue, much more work is required, and the host of problems plaguing the university must be seriously addressed. AUDFA has urged the university to take concrete actions to materialise its verbal assurances and work together to resolve the ongoing crisis at the varsity.
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