The members of a students’ union at Jadavpur University have gheraoed Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das and other executive committee members in protest against the institute’s decision to scrap admission tests in six humanities subjects.
The university yesterday announced that it would admit undergraduate students in English, Comparative Literature, Bengali, History, Political Science and Philosophy only on the basis of their board marks, reversing its last week’s decision to hold entrance tests.
The move has led to fresh turmoil in the university, with the members of arts faculty students’ union staging a sit-in before the offices of Das and other executive panel officials since 6pm yesterday.
The vice-chancellor, however, said he failed to understand the reason behind the protest.
“We have been confined in our offices for over 20 hours by a handful of students, who fail to understand that the decision to scrap the entrance test was taken by the Executive Council. I, as the VC, will have to abide by the decision,” he told PTI.
The gherao is taking a toll on his health, Das claimed.
“While talking about democratic movement, the students are infringing on our freedom to spend time with family. The gherao is affecting my health as I am unable to follow certain guidelines by my doctor. Yesterday, they stopped me twice from leaving the campus.”
Das, however, asserted that he would not seek police help to disperse the students.
“I will never call the police. Instead, I will wait for them to see reason in this whole agitation. Why can’t they move court instead of gheraoing us,” Das said.
Countering the vice chancellor’s argument, Somasree Chowdhury, the chairperson of Arts Faculty Students’ Union (AFSU), said the JU administration had been “frequently changing its stand” on matters of admission.
“They (JU authorities) are toying with the future of 17,000 candidates who have filled up forms for admission to different streams. There is no way we can accept this. We will continue our sit-in till the university restores the previous procedure of holding entrance tests,” she said.
The executive council’s decision was prompted by the views expressed by West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee to have “uniform admission system” in all state-run universities, Chowdhury alleged.
Chatterjee had said last November that the university should admit students on the basis of marks obtained in board exams.
JU Registrar Chiranjib Bhattacharya, after announcing the decision to scrap entrance tests, told reporters yesterday that that the council’s move comes in the wake of “displeasure” among a section of teachers over its previous decision to involve external experts in the admission procedure.
“There was little possibility of conducting entrance tests after addressing the concerns of our teachers, given the little time we have in hand,” Pro-VC Pradip Ghosh, who was also present at press meet, said.
“In view of the uncertainties faced by thousands of candidates, we decided to go by the marks criterion for this year,” Ghosh added.
Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said yesterday that the admission procedure in all subjects should be similar, but left it for the respective institutions to take the final call on the issue.
Criticising the executive council’s decision, a spokesman of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association told PTI that admitting students based on their marks may “lower the academic standard” of JU arts faculty.
“We will have to admit candidates without proper evaluation of their writing abilities. This is a departure from the JU’s time-tested procedure,” he said.
Last month, the VC was gheraoed for 44 hours by the AFSU after authorities decided to postpone the admission test in the six streams.