An order dated July 15 has been issued by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Hyderabad’s administrative body suspending the academic activities of the Hyderabad campus sine die – which means with no appointed date for resumption.
“All the students are hereby required to vacate the campus latest by 5PM today i.e. 15/07//2019,” the notice said.
The notice is in response to the protesting students of Hyderabad off-campus who have been on a hunger strike against the administration’s handling of the varsity’s hostel fee and mess issue.
A TISS employee, on condition of anonymity, told NewsClick that the notice is completely unacceptable and everyone who belongs to the TISS community has been very disturbed by this order.
“The administration during the whole course of 7-8 days since the protests started has stuck to its guns and has not moved even an inch from its original position,” said the employee.
Also read: TISS Hyderabad's Massive Fee Hike Forces Students to Drop Out
According to the notice, on the fourth day of the agitation, in a meeting between the Convener and students who receive GOI Post-Matric scholarship, a consensus was reached between the two parties and a decision was taken to resume classes from the next day.
Failure to adhere to this agreement would force the institute “to close down indefinitely”, stated the mail which was sent by Prof. Vindhya, Acting Deputy Director to all the students.
However, according to the TISS employee, it has been recorded in the meeting that there were a fair number of SC/ST students who said that they do not accept the offer. Despite that, the deputy director wrote a mail claiming to have reached a consensus directly with the SC/ST students and asked the Students Action Committee (SAC) – a students’ body that was formed last year – and was leading the agitation, to call of the strike.
“The meeting, which has been referred in the notice, was also a clear attempt to cut out the SAC,” said the employee, “and speak directly to a selected group of SC/ST students who could be intimidated to accept the administration’s point of view.”
In the subsequent meetings that were held between the management committee and the representatives of the student body, a ‘deadlock’ was reached, meaning the management did not accept the demands that the students have been pressing for.
The notice, ironically, justifies the decision of suspending the academic activities by describing students’ activities as “illegal”, “unlawful” and “unjustified” which has eventually made the institute “to come to a conscious conclusion that it is not safe, practicable and not in the interest of all students, teaching and non-teaching staff to continue its normal academic activities within the campus.”
NewsClick had earlier reported on how the TISS administration’s decision to increase the hostel fee from Rs 15,000 to Rs 54,000 per semester for its recently opened Hyderabad campus has caused hundreds of students to stand up in arms against the administration.
The private service provider, who has received the contract for food and hostel facilities, has come up with a rule which requires students to pay the whole amount of hostel and mess fee of each semester, at the beginning of the semester, non-fulfillment of which will prohibit the student from joining the hostel. Several students belonging to the SC and ST category were among the first to get affected by this rule and were forced to drop out.
Earlier today, Rajya Sabha member Elamaram Kareem from Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] wrote to Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union Cabinet Minister of Human Resource Development asking for his intervention in the matter and to instruct the concerned authorities to address the issues raised by the students.
*This is a developing story. We will keep reporting on new developments.
Also read: TISS Hyderabad Students go on Hunger Strike after Administration Refused to Meet Demands