With women students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) sparking off a debate about safer campuses, students at JNU ignored the administration’s warning of disciplinary action by electing candidates from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) and other Left organisations as representatives to the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH).
The JNU administration had earlier replaced the GSCASH with an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), which sparked off criticism from students and teachers. The polls for GSCASH took place on Wednesday, with 2,365 students turning up to vote. While usually only two student representatives are elected to the body, this year, four students were elected.
Magare Bhupali Vithal from BAPSA secured the highest votes (1,308 out of 2,365). It is for the first time that a candidate from the organisation has won a GSCASH seat. She was followed by Shreya Ghosh from Collective, a campus-based Left organisation, who got 1,189 votes; and Srabani Chakraborty from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), who got 1,144 votes.
The fourth position saw a tie between Chetna Trivedi from All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Swati Simha from the Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF), both of whom got 1,122 votes each. While GSCASH election committee chairperson Bhagat Singh Saini said re-election to the position of the fourth representative could be an option, sources in AISA and DSF said chances were bleak since the GSCASH was not functioning currently, and elections were only conducted as protest.
“I’m thankful to all students who showed the courage to come and vote, and the Election Committee, which showed the courage to conduct the elections, despite repeated administrative attacks. This is a mandate for having an inclusive autonomous GSCASH. It is also a mandate for the discourse of oppressed unity that BAPSA has been propounding,” said Vithal.
On Tuesday, the Chief Proctor had told The Indian Express that the GSCASH elections were illegal and that he would be taking action after he received a report from the university’s internal security committee. The administration had earlier notified elections to three posts in the ICC, which was boycotted by all student organisations barring the ABVP. As a result, three students — one undergraduate, one post graduate, and one research scholar —were elected unopposed.