Presi students sit on indefinite fast over attendance

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jan 20, 2015 12:27 IST

Barely days after the trouble at Jadavpur University (JU) was resolved, another students’ movement started on Monday night at Presidency University.

Around 10 students of Presidency University have been sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since 9 pm on Monday demanding their right to participate in the upcoming students’ union elections irrespective of their attendance percentage.

“Ten students are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike from Monday night. Our demand is all students, irrespective of their attendance percentage, should be allowed to participate in the upcoming union election. Willing students should be allowed to file their nominations. Voting is a democratic right and we in no way would allowed it to be curbed,” Presidency University students’ union vice-president Amardeep Singh told HT. The union election is scheduled on February 4 and the last date for filing nominations is January 27.

The bone of contention among students and university authorities is the latter’s decision to link class attendance with the right to participate in students’ union election. The university authorities have made it clear that only those students who have a minimum of 60% attendance will be able to cast votes or become a candidate. The university has about 2,000 student voters out of whom over 180 have already been stopped from participating in the union election because of attendance issues.

The decision by the university authorities has not gone down well with the students and so far they have been urging the varsity to reconsider it.

“As per UGC norms, in order to participate in the students’ union election, a student has to have a minimum of 75% attendance. This year we have kept it to 60% and there is no reason why we should reconsider it,” said Presidency registrar Debyajoti Konar.

Explaining why the university slashed the attendance, Konar said, “This is because 75% attendance is also necessary for allowing students to take exams. But only a few months back we allowed students with a minimum of 60% attendance to take the exam. The concession was given on students’ request, so we decided to maintain parity this time too. However, this concession is just a one-time arrangement and from next year rules will not be bent.”

The minimum mandatory attendance has become a hurdle for several candidates and voters. Till late evening, the students were busy holding a general body meeting to decide their next course of action and may consider launching a protest if the authorities do not want to give in.

In November 2014, too, the students had resolved to go on a movement over attendance when 180 students found themselves ineligible to take the exams. But vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia was firm in her decision and managed to persuade the students through discussion. This time, too, Lohia is unlikely to give in to the students’ demand.

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