With the state education minister Vinod Tawde announcing that students’ council elections will be reintroduced in colleges, students and teacher share mixed opinions on the issue.
The student elections were banned in 1992-93 owing to malpractices, campus violence and the death of a college student in the city.
In the current system, according to Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, each affiliated college or institute has to elect a representative focusing on merit in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The state government plans, through an amendment in Maharashtra Universities Act, to make a provision for direct elections.
There are varied reactions on whether direct elections are better than the current system where student representatives are nominated. Neil Somaiya, second year MBA student, Sydenham College, Churchgate and city general secretary, student wing of BJP said, “Through direct elections, students will get to know how our election system works”
College principals fear that restarting student council elections will unleash unnecessary political influence on students. Manju Nichani, principal, KC College, Churchgate said, “Most of the time, capable students involved in college activities and academics may not even get an opportunity to contest elections. I strongly oppose the proposed move. ”
Vishnu Magare, principal, Kirti College, Dadar, said, “Once elections are reintroduced, principals will come under pressure to take in students belonging to political parties during admissions. However, through model code of conduct, healthy atmosphere during elections can be maintained.”
However, campus violence, which was the major cause for the ban on elections, is the biggest threat to their reintroduction, feel authorities. “The current nomination system is better as there is no high drama or violence. It is a big question whether direct elections will make students aware about political system or it will harm representation of students,” said a MU official requesting anonymity.
Some students feel that college elections can be a learning experience for students if the process is managed well. Sneha Ramachandran, third year student, and ex general secretary, VG Vaze College, Mulund said, “If implemented with strict regulations and eligibility criteria, it will acquaint students with basics of democracy.”