A first-year postgraduate student was suspended by her college for allegedly organising a student meeting on the college campus. The suspension order, dated October 1, stated that Malathi was denied permission by the principal to conduct the meeting. “The meeting was conducted by the student in a manner that could cause disturbance to the peaceful nature of the campus and was not in line with discipline expected by the college,” read the order.
Malathi, a first-year Masters student at Government Arts College, Coimbatore, wanted to organise a student meeting to celebrate the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh. On September 28, she had sought permission to organise a function on the college campus.
Chitra Mohan, the principal of the college, denied permission and instead told her to seek permission from her Head of the Department (History) and conduct a department-level function. Malathi then approached the tutor in her department, who also denied permission.
Nevertheless, she went ahead and conducted the meeting as planned originally. The meeting that went on for 45 minutes to an hour, where the students also discussed the lack of basic amenities in the college.
Speaking to TNM, Malathi said, “A few students spoke about Bhagat Singh at the event. They started talking about his revolutionary approach towards the British, but eventually, the conversation shifted to discussions on the college amenities.”
She alleged that the college authorities are now trying to politicise the issue. "The authorities are miffed that we spoke about the lack of facilities in the college. We don't have proper toilets and the ones that we have are not maintained at all. It is true that they didn't give us permission but we did not do anything wrong," she said.
She also added, “The college is clamping down on students who raise voice against the management, thereby curbing the democracy inside the campus.”
Chitra Mohan told the reporters that the college had to take action since Malathi had not received permission from the authorities to organise the meeting.
"Around 100 students participated in the meeting and they were talking about the college amenities. Earlier, the students submitted a representation about faulty water purifiers and I had repaired them immediately. I am doing everything within my power to set things right,” she said.
She also said that the college would have organised a bigger function if Malathi had come to her seeking permission a few days earlier than giving her notice at the last minute.
Malathi has been suspended pending enquiry by a four-member committee led by the Head of the History department on October 22.
In the latest press release, the principal denied the allegations that the college was curbing freedom of expression and stated that, contrary to public perception, they value and respect the contributions of Bhagat Singh to the country.