The tragic suicide of a Dalit student, protests against discrimination in the college, a Vice-Chancellor accused of ostracizing many students; University of Hyderabad had been in the news many times in the last two years.
The university clearly does not want student unions to mobilize protests for any reason, anymore.
In a move that is being opposed fiercely by students, the admission forms for 2017-18, requires aspirants to sign an undertaking saying they will not participate in protests or demonstrations if they arenâ€™t aligned to the University rules.
For the past three days, many students have been camping outside the admin office at the University of Hyderabad in protest. Their agenda is to get the administration to retract the clause that has been added in the admission form.
A glimpse from day 2 of the 'Occupy Admin' protest
Suman Damera, General Secretary of the UoH Students Union, one of the protesters, told TNM that their constitutional right to dissent was being curtailed. â€śWhy will students protest if the University is meeting their demands? We condemn this stand of the administration,â€ť he said.
As per the new annexure, new joinees will be required to sign an undertaking, some of whose points are:
* I will not participate in any protest/demonstration which is not in accordance with the laid down rules and regulations of the University.
* I will consciously keep myself away from actions that will bring disrepute to the Institution.
* I will not misuse or misrepresent the name of the University through social media and will not indulge in any form of libel or slander against the University.
* I undertake not to lead, aid, abet, coerce, procure or incite others to disrupt scheduled /normal activities within University campus or at University sponsored or supervised functions.
Calling these requirements in the undertaking unconstitutional, Kuldeep Singh Nagi argued, â€śThe point of higher education is to question and critically examine everything. Thatâ€™s what they teach us in classes. Now they are telling us we cannot be critical about the University?â€ť
â€śOther affidavits like anti-ragging and anti-sexual harassment do not infringe on our freedoms, but protect them. We met with the administration on Thursday and put forward our demands. We also burnt the annexure on Wednesday in protest,â€ť Suman said, adding that the authorities had not responded to their demands so far.
The letter Kuldeep submitted to the administration at the meeting on Thursday.
Dontha Prashanth, one of the scholars who was suspended by UoH along with Rohith Vemula in December 2015, says that this move suggested the administrationâ€™s desire to turn the institution into a yes-market. â€śThe University itself was formed as a result of the 1969 Telangana agitation. How can an institution mar protest when it is a product of it?â€ť he questioned.
However, Devesh Nigam, the UoH Controller of Examinations told TNM that the idea behind the new annexure and undertaking was not to take away any rights from students.
â€śWe have been receiving some communication from the UGC and MHRD about disturbances and illegal activities in some central universities. Keeping that in mind, we have made this undertaking mandatory. Students are more than welcome to give constructive criticism through the grievance mechanisms which are there. In fact, they often approach the Dean of Studentsâ€™ Welfare with their issues,â€ť Devesh said.
â€śRegardless of the undertaking, the University can take disciplinary action against students if they indulge in such activities. This is a generic undertaking to merely make the student aware that they have signed a document so that they do not participate in illegal or disruptive activities,â€ť he added.
With the UoH admissions set to begin from July 10, Students Union representatives said that they will intensify their protest if their demands are not met.