Students at the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) were in for a shock last week when the college administration issued “new documents” which stated that no political activity will be allowed in the campus. The undertaking, dated January 31, was allegedly issued by the hostel authorities, and had rules asking first year students to not do anything that would tarnish the institute’s image and keep away from political activities inside the campus.
The first document said, “I shall not take part in any activity that will adversely affect the image of the institute”. The second one said, “I undertake not to indulge in any political activities within the campus of the institute as it is against the apolitical nature of the institute”.
However, K Sethupathi, Chairman, Council of Wardens, called it a clerical error while issuing the forms to new students.
Usually at the time of admission, students are asked to sign a form containing honour code of IIT Madras and two anti-ragging rules. But the wrong form issued to the students created confusion in the institute.
“In 2015 similar clauses was included and then withdrawn after student protests. The rejected documents got included in the application this time and that is the reason for the confusion,” Sethupathi said.
The problematic clauses are encircled
“The form uploaded online has no such clauses and the students are asked to only those forms. I have personally sent a clarification mail last week asking the students not to sign the old document,” he added.
A student on condition of anonymity told The News Minute that he was one of the few people who got the document and had refused to sign.
“The statements in the circular are ambiguous and the college can take these open statements to its own advantage. It is a potential threat for any student who is facing issues with the management. It is providing an institute with a document using which it can going against the students,” he said.
Justin, a PhD student at the institute and a member of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle said that this new rule posed a danger.
“It was issued by the hostel authorities and only to the first year students,” Justin said.
“According to me they are trying to ask students to stop forming groups to address a single issue of an individual. They want us to come individually so that it is easy for them to handle the issue to their favour without any external pressure from student group,” he said.
Students of IIT have been planning to form an alternate student’s union to tackle any issue in unity, he added.