The Association of Old Stephanians has come out strongly against the action taken by the principal against Devansh Mehta, who has been suspended from college for publishing a student magazine, saying that this was probably the first time a student was barred from attending college over a free speech issue.
“Stephen’s has had principals before but none of them ever reacted the way Thampu has. He is running a totalitarian regime in this college. Through his vindictive action, he is damaging the image of this institution,” said Ashish Joshi, media co-ordinator for the association.
Joshi referred to past instances of students running irreverent magazines full of humour, without inviting such ire from principals. “In fact, humour is in the culture of Stephens,” Joshi added.
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On April 15, the association even issued a statement stating that Thampu had no moral right to remain principal of the college.
“How can the principal of an institution allow his ego to run amok to victimise a student? Is this how a principal is supposed to act?,” the association had asked.
“It is also shocking (to see) the ego and pettiness reflected in the note issued by the principal,” the statement added.
In fact, Mehta’s suspension seems to have become a sore point for St Stephen’s alumni, with one of them starting an online petition asking Chief Minister Kejriwal to refuse an invitation to the college.
“He (Thampu) may be well within his right to order suspension, but the larger question here is about curtailment of freedom of speech,” Romyorup Mitra, a former student who signed the petition, said.