End-semester examinations were boycotted by students in almost all Schools and Centres of Jawaharlal Nehru University Thursday, except in the departments of Sanskrit, Engineering and Management. It is the first time in recent history that exams were boycotted.
Students had parked themselves at the Schools and Centres since Wednesday night to ensure boycott. Most exams were to begin at 10 am, and a few were supposed to be held in the second half.
The JNU Teachers’ Association had also come out in support of the call for boycott given by the JNU Students’ Union, saying that the administration’s “attempts to forcefully conduct” end-semester examinations “must be put an end to” since it “did not help in fostering a settlement through dialogue”.
After more than 45 days of strike called by JNUSU over revision of the hostel manual, which included hostel fee hike, the Vice-Chancellor also met the hostel presidents for the first time Thursday. However, instead of meeting the JNUSU office-bearers, the Registrar in a notice asked “all the candidates who contested for the post of position of president of JNUSU in 2019” to attend the meeting.
The Delhi High Court had Wednesday asked the administration and agitating students to sit together and resolve the issue.
Both meetings failed, with hostel presidents and JNUSU 2019 presidential candidates alleging that the V-C was not interested in finding solutions.
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All 18 hostel presidents who attended the meeting with the V-C, Dean of Students (DoS), Registrar and Rectors in a statement said the V-C “concluded the meeting and ran away” when “tough questions” were asked.
“First they tried to convince us how the service and utility charges are justified. Then the hostel presidents demanded complete roll back of new hostel manual and a fresh IHA meeting to be held in a democratic manner… The V-C justified the October 28 IHA meeting and said that the meeting was legitimate,” they said.
“Umesh Kadam (DoS) was adamant that he will not notify the JNUSU. The V-C wanted the Yamuna hostel (fully privatised) model in all hostels. We rejected such proposals. They even justified the 10% annual hike,” the hostel presidents claimed.
A day earlier, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had said that the administration had agreed that service and utility charges would be paid by the UGC and that the “administration and students would follow orders of High Court for notification of JNUSU”.
JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh said the talks remained “inconclusive”. “The V-C was not interested in a dialogue and was only talking about our protest. I told him that discussions about hostel issues should be held in IHA meetings alone,” she said.
ABVP’s presidential candidate was the only one absent from the meeting on account of being out of town.
The V-C, Registrar, DoS and Rector did not respond to calls and texts, but in two separate statements, Registrar Pramod Kumar said both meetings were “a significant step towards normalising the situation in the university through deeper dialogue”.
He said the meeting with the presidential candidates ended with the V-C making an appeal to call off the strike. “He requested the student leaders to talk to their fellow students so that normal academic activities…are resumed…,” he said.