A few days back, Youth ki Awaaz was banned in a popular Bangalore university after students took to the open-digital platform to publish their grievances. The accounts questioned the varsity’s autocratic nature and arbitrary functioning. They also highlighted the moral policing and the ill treatment of the professors and the students, raising severe questions on the professed liberal nature of the campus. Obviously, the published pieces didn’t please the authorities of the University. Therefore, BAN!
The big ban theory could be for several reasons. First, to deny allegations, rather awareness of the autocratic regime among the students. Second, they (the articles) are a means to malign the image of the university.
Let’s answer the concerns.
The university claims to be a ‘nurturing ground for holistic development’. The reason being they resort to superlative level of moral-policing and arbitrary practices. Take this for example. Guards at college gates would stop girls at their own discretion for not wearing dupattas and scrutinise the ‘expose’ level. Moral policing at the superlative level, isn’t it? Also, the University follows strict a 85% attendance criteria and was open even when the city was locked down due to a ‘bandh’.
To be noted. The University’s holistic education model draws a dressing sense criterion to assess entitlement to education. And, postulating no loss of productive hours, for which they expect students to fly to the campus if citing unavailability of ‘affordable’ public transport.
These were the set of questions raised by the students on the banned platform.
A few facts:
- Students cannot stage a protest or attend a meeting without the Vice-Chancellor’s permission.
- Students are not permitted to make complaints in a body or present any collective action.
- Fine of up to Rs. 5000 if the attendance ranges between 75-85%.
- Classes begin at 8:30 A.M., evidently difficult for far-off students to make it in time. The ‘late arrivals’ are then expected to meet the authorities for interrogation, and write apology letters.
The University has also discouraged any form of dissent and protest. Professors and students staging any form of opposition from the norms have only landed up in the bad books of the management. Excessive humiliation, sidelining and unnecessary punishments for both, incase of violation is the order of the day. Talking of representative democracy and activism, the student council of the university is not elected, but selected.
So basically, it claims of fostering holistic education by hampering democratic ideals and dissent. Incredible. Sounds so similar to Communist China, doesn’t it?
Back to the Ban-Theory, now.
It needs to be essentially pointed out that the articles published were self-written accounts by the students and teachers. It was not a prejudiced piece bought out by a staff-writer. All open media platforms exercise the highest level of caution, scrutinising their content, making them free of any prejudices or exaggerations. The portal bought out stories, written by students and teachers, which actually praised the varsity for the same rules and norms.
One question, here. Why is that students were forced to take to online media to publish grievances repeatedly?
The answer is simple. Each time the University spaces pay little heed to the student grievances, Internet becomes the source of outrage. On 29th July 2016, students took to protesting against the ill treatment, attendance criteria, course structure and the imposing dress code. The guards disrespected the students asking them to leave. The mob dispersed because of unsatisfactory results. What eventually followed were students being summoned, professors being humiliated and resignations.
Because the varsity never really made an attempt to engage with the students rather neglecting them completely is why they took to online portals.
About the image, now. The image that has been allegedly maligned, is, created by the students and carried by them for the remaining part of their lives. It is their university, and therefore, the outrage is personal. These outrages promote awareness, a solution when the varsity fails to establish a real dialogue. If there is a case of one notion/argument overpowering the other, it is very much the result of one’s loose and contradictory stands.
It is time that the University exercises some rationality than just preaching it. Ban on the youth-portal has backfired, they have windowed their fears and inability of a democratic dialogue. Holistic Development is not possible without a democratic space. And democracy promotes scope for scrutinising the authority’s actions that allegedly infringes upon levels of arbitrary functioning under the garb of protectionism. This must be the set-up for beginning a debate than ending it.
Does your model of Holistic Development aims at creating loyal brainless subjects than aware citizens after three or more years of education?
High time, please restore some objectivity and sense.
University Express is in complete support of freedom of speech. Curbing online spaces isn’t the solution, let’s create a dialogue instead. Access to this space is in-discriminatory. Let’s win with arguments and facts and not power relations. Trust me, wits do get appreciation on the Internet.