Anjana Ashok, UG22 On October 30th, the Ashoka Distinguished Policy Speaker Series hosted a talk with
Gayatri Kulkarni, UG21,
Over the past few months, The Office of Student Life (OSL) has taken multiple, seemingly arbitrary decisions which have come under much criticism from the student body. Much of the criticism was directed at the despotic nature with which these decisions have been taken. A point illustrated by the fact that the opinion student body was rarely taken into consideration during the implementation of these decisions. The foundation of any university is its students, yet campus organisations like the Student Government and multiple student-led committees are rarely actively informed or involved in the decision-making process. The culmination of the growing dissatisfaction was a massive open meeting help by the students that took place on the 16th. Here is a comprehensive timeline of events that led up to Tuesday’s open meeting.
1.Revised Cross Access Timings | June’19
In the Spring semester, the cross access timings had been revised to 24 hours on the weekends on a pilot basis. However, the OSL decided to discontinue this policy with a one-day prior notice. It revoked the earlier cross access timings of 8:00 am to 12:30 am without having a discussion with the student body.
2. Change in the Mess System Leading to an Increased Price | July’19
The earlier mess system consisted of a coupon system where the number of meals one consumes was the amount to be paid. However, the same day as the cross access policy change, there was an email sent to the student body regarding the new mess Caterers. After three weeks, the announcement of a revised mess system with a fixed cover charge of Rs 20,000 was declared. Students have also complained about the quality of mess food, leading to health hazards for students.
3. Unsafe living conditions of RH5 | August’19
There were several complaints from the ASP women over the unliveable conditions of their new residence arrived on campus. The RH5 residence had been under construction for a while, however, due to the incoming batch being a larger amount than the outgoing batches the construction had been hurried up. Students residing in these building were living under unsafe conditions with many of the facilities, not in a working condition. The fact that construction was still going on whilst the students were living was a major grievance.
4. Policy regarding clubs and societies | September’19
The Residence life team sent an email to the student body regarding changes in the policy on clubs and societies. This new policy states that clubs and societies can hold events only between 11 am and 11 pm. On a residential campus, where classes go on till late evening, it is difficult to hold events primarily in the day time. Clubs and societies such as Navrang (movie screenings), Debating union (debates), Kirdaar and Vistaar (practice sessions and performances) etc have events that go on after 11 pm and this new policy would cause major inconvenience.
5. Town Hall | September’19
In light of the policy changes and several other issues that led to outrage from the student body, the Student government organized an open forum where students could come together to discuss issues such as the cross access timings, campus infrastructure (for ASP women), unreasonable mess pricing and negligence towards gender-inclusive (as well as queer-inclusive) housing. This forum was attended by around 500 students, as well as some members of the faculty.
Other student grievances include the unfair working conditions of construction workers and laundry staff, the curfew policy, non-access to CCTV footage on accounts of CASH and theft etc, the ResLife Policy, financial aid being denied to students in need, increasing hike in fees etc. The students are holding the admin account for the grievances they face and demanding the admin to respond appropriately in the hopes for better living conditions for the University’s primary stakeholders- its students.