Ritam Dutta 0

No to Code-of-Conduct and Commercialization of Education

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We, a diverse group of concerned citizens, academics, intellectuals and activists, are alarmed at the prospect of the proposed Code of Conduct being implemented within Jadavpur University campuses. We feel especially concerned at the proposal of introduction of identity cards for students, the banning of street corners, theaters, rallies and posters on campus, and the installation of CCTv cameras. These measures, we strongly believe, go drastically against an environment of intellectual and academic exchange and vibrancy, which has always characterized Jadavpur University, as is evident from the number of noted intellectuals this university has produced through years. We also strongly feel that such attempts to police and control the mobility and intellectual exchanges between the students and the different segments of the civil society go directly against the democratic aspirations, anti-colonial sentiments and the emancipatory spirit upon which this much-loved and venerated institution was founded. Excellence in education can never be attained by curtailing the democratic rights of the students of a university. The current proposals, we are afraid, amount to an attack on the basic rights of the students of Jadavpur University to engage in free pursuit of knowledge, as well as free pursuit of academic, cultural and extra-curricular exchanges. 
 We are equally dismayed at the proposal to build a three-star hotel within the University premises. While the University authorities argue that the proposed hotel will generate much-needed funds, we feel very strongly that such an endeavor will contribute towards commodification and commercialization of the University. This will seriously interfere with the primary tasks of the University, namely that of educating students and constructing an infrastructure which will encourage and nurture excellent research. This is especially alarming given that the University authorities have also suggested a drastic increase in tuition fees, and have refused to grant more than a pittance towards financial aid for deserving and needy students. Given the financial pressures faced by the University today, we find it completely illogical that the Code of Conduct mandates a set of costly security systems – the cost of the CCTv system alone would be Rs.16 lakhs, as reported. 
 We, therefore, demand that the Jadavpur University authorities immediately revoke the new Code of Conduct. We also propose that the university authorities initiate discussions with the student organizations and representatives of all three faculties on the fundamental questions of campus environment and financial sustenance. We strongly protest against the imposition of rules of conduct on the students from above, and demand that the students be seriously involved in any decision-making process regarding the issues that confronts the campus community as a whole today. This has become especially important, since a sizeable section of the students of all three faculties have already registered their protests. We think, it is upon the university authorities now to listen to the dissenting student voices, invite them to a dialog and implement policies that will promptly restore the normalcy and the academic environment of the campus again. Yours sincerely,

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