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Repeal Code of Conduct in JU ~ Save Campus Democracy

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We, the ex-students of Jadavpur University, are alarmed at the prospect of the proposed Code of Conduct being implemented within the university campuses. Jadavpur University's academic and intellectual vibrancy have thrived on the environment of free exchanges between the students of all three faculties. The students of the University have, almost from the moment of its inception, enjoyed the benefits of academic, intellectual, cultural and extra-curricular exchanges that have crossed – as well as challenged – the disciplinary and faculty lines. This is what that makes the University campus unique within the city of Kolkata, if not the entire state and the country. Any educational institution worth its salt survives on relationships of mutual give-and-take between its surrounding communities, ex-students, and other constituencies who are not necessarily registered students of its programs and departments. Historical experience has shown, time and again, that these exchanges enrich the primary task of an educational institution, namely that of producing knowledge which can serve the broader world in multiple ways. The proposals that students must show their identity cards on entry, that they are to be denied entry if they fail to do so, the stationing of security guards at each and every gate, the permanent closure of Gate No. 5, the banning of street corners, theaters, rallies, and placing posters in different parts of the campus, and the installation of CCTV cameras, go drastically against such an environment of intellectual and academic exchange and vibrancy. We 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 of ours 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 exchange. 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 the 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. Sincerely, Yours faithfully,

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