An inquiry into the row over the publication of a digital magazine at St Stephen’s College has indicted the students who founded it for ‘undermining the understanding with the principal’. It has also stated that there was ‘no ambiguity’ that the students would publish the digital newspaper with the consent of the principal.
Principal Valson Thampu had suspended a student-run website for allegedly not following his instructions and publishing the weekly without waiting for his go-ahead. The digital newspaper — Stephen’s Weekly — was launched on March 5 and contained news reports about college events, a play review and an interview with Thampu. It also featured an article on the history of campus jokes and pranks played over the years.
“The co-founders clearly undermined the understanding… This was a case of breach of trust and procedural lapse,” states the inquiry report.
It also says that one of the students, Devansh Mehta, “assumed that the principal had banned the magazine, whereas it was clear that the Principal had (only) postponed its publication”. The report also accuses the student of choosing to “mobilise the media without exploring the possibility of resolving the issue within the college”.
The student is now contemplating a move to court to seek redressal, in case the college decides to punish him. “It is paradoxical that on one hand Devansh is being considered for the Rai Saheb Banarsi Das memorial prize, an award given to an undergraduate student of philosophy or economics for high standard of personal behaviour, and, on the other, he is being reprimanded in this manner. If he is punished unfairly, we will go to court,” Sunil Mathews, the student’s lawyer, said.
Thampu said the committee was constituted to “establish the facts and circumstances pertaining to the event” on account of a “twisted and distorted version splashed in the media”. “In the interest of truth, the report is being made available to the college community,” the statement reads.