In a sudden and unusual development, the administrative authorities of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad have asked its students to vacate the college hostel by January 3 citing “renovation work” in the campus till January 17. The winter break was scheduled to end on January 3.
The announcement, which was made in a circular on December 30, has left a lot of students in a tight spot. Many students have already returned to the campus since the winter break is supposed to end on Friday, and others say that it is not possible to make arrangements to go home on such short notice.
The students also allege that the authorities cut the internet in the hostels on campus the day the circular was sent, and have expressed doubt that it could be an attempt by the authorities to curb student protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Speaking to TNM, Nandu, a PhD student at EFLU, says that the hurried manner in which the administration is sending students back home is worrisome.
“First of all, there was one whole month when there were very few students on campus and that was the ideal time for re-construction. Then why did they send a circular out of the blue when the vacation was just about to end? And why should the entire campus vacate at once? They are allowing foreign students to stay. Why are only the others made to go home?” Nandu asks.
The students also say that since it’s a rush time owing to New Year and vacations coming to an end, it is difficult to get tickets to travel back home.
“They have informed us that they would shut down the mess on January 3. We are not able to find train tickets, let alone confirmed ones. How are they expecting us to travel?” Nandu asks.
Students also say that the situation has become tough for research scholars who do not have holidays and have been staying in the hostel all throughout the winter break.
“This is the first time that PhD scholars have been asked to leave the campus. There are students who come from states where curfew has been imposed. Also, the admin is asking us to book tickets taking money from our own pockets, not considering the fact that we are yet to receive our stipend money for the month. It is not practical for many of us to leave for home,” a stusent said under conditions of anonymity.
Echoing similar concerns, Keerthi, another PhD scholar in the Cultural Studies department, says that research scholars have been asked to take personal leaves and leave the campus.
“There are many who are in their fifth year and are writing their thesis. The decision was taken without consulting a single member from the students’ union and now they are also not letting teachers hold meetings. It’s possible to arrange alternate accommodation for us at the empty teachers’ staff quarters or at the guest house. But the administration isn’t even ready to talk to us,” Keerthi says.
Protesting against the forceful eviction, the students have been sitting in front of the admin block since Tuesday morning. However, they say the administration has refused to meet or address the students’ grievances.
“Their excuses are flimsy. When asked what‘s the need to vacate all students from the campus at once, one of the authorities told that the contractor wished not to see a single student inside the campus during the construction work. So now they say that we should vacate because the contractor doesn’t like it?” another student at the University told TNM.
The students say that though this might probably be an attempt to curb protests inside the campus, they also say that it is insensitive on the part of the administration to overlook the students’ difficulties.
Meanwhile, speaking to TNM, Prakash Kona, chief vigilance officer at EFLU, says that all students have been asked to leave at once since they are revamping the washrooms in the hostels.
“It will be difficult for students to stay without washrooms. Also, we are making arrangements to confirm tickets for students who have to travel far,” he added.