Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Students raise concern over breach of academic freedom in TISS Mumbai

Students’ union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai on Wednesday released a statement highlighting the suppression of students’ freedoms on the campus.

The statement alleged that the administration had stopped all the extra academic events and guest lectures which might include critical views on the socio-political issues under the current BJP regime.

Ambedkarite Students’ Association (ASA) led-students’ union questioned the lack of transparency in administration’s communication as the responses to various grievances raised by students have not been documented.

In addition, several students were summoned and subjected to enquiries based on their identities as well as their activities on personal social media handles, the student body alleged.

Earlier on 18 January, the administration had agreed to meet the demands of the students and promised the release of a new set of student centric guidelines. But since then, each time when the students pursued the demand, the administration was reluctant to reply.

“The implementation of informal restrictions on student activities without explanations, including event approvals (even for routine school events), venue usage, and gatherings raises a fundamental question: whom is this campus actually for? It seems the restrictions are focused on creating an ‘artificially sanitized environment’ for the time being, rather than fostering a vibrant and engaged student community,” the statement said.

The student body has also expressed its discontent against the institution authorities who have been infantilising students’ opinions and questioning their identities during official conversations.

It has also alleged that the administration had kept these excesses out of official records as it had prevented documentation of any of the conversations through official channel.

“Institute spaces are platforms for open discussion and discourse, not subject to arbitrary restrictions and approvals. Students should be empowered to organize events, lectures and engage in discourse within the parameters of academic freedom without the need for undue justification or approval processes,” the statement added.

As per UGC norms, the students, as democratic citizens, are entitled to freedom of thought and expression within and outside their institution.

“College/university authorities must not impose unreasonable, partisan or arbitrary restrictions on organising seminars, lectures and debates that do not otherwise violate any law,” it pointed out.

The student body argued that current environment in TISS is a complete violation of the student entitlement suggested in the UGC document.

It is worth noting here that in January, a notice was issued by TISS registrar asking students not to organise or participate in any public program opposing the Ram temple consecration.

The circular sparked criticism as it contained a threatening tone, and students called it ‘arbitrary and undemocratic’.


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