A view of the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT Photo)
A view of the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT Photo)

JNU asks students to clear dues before registering for next semester; students object

Students say that most of them neither availed mess nor hostel facilities since the pandemic hit, but are being arbitrarily and unjustly charged for the same
By Fareeha Iftikhar | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 20, 2020 01:06 PM IST

Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) demanded the withdrawal of the order asking them to pay hostel fees and maintenance charges, and clear all previous mess bills before registering for the next semester. Students said that the demand is “unjustified” as the campus has been shut since March and the upcoming semester is likely to be held online given the Covid-19 pandemic .

In a circular issued on August 14, JNU administration had announced the online registration for the monsoon semester. “Students are required to pay all relevant dues such as tuition fees, hostel fees and mess dues etc,” the circular read.

The presidents of all 18 hostel committees in JNU wrote to the Dean of Students on Wednesday demanding the waiver of the hostel and other charges. “Most of the students left the campus in March after an administrative circular advised them to do so. While they have neither availed mess nor hostel facilities since, they are being arbitrarily and unjustly charged for the same. Similarly, if students have not used hostel facilities such as their room, utensils or crockery, the charges are not logical at this juncture,” the letter read.

Also read: Students’ union objects against JNU registrations for monsoon semester

The hostel presidents alleged that there have been “discrepancies” in the mess bills received by the students. “The residents that remain on campus have not been provided breakfast since the lockdown commenced, yet the mess bill for the students exceeds what could be presumed reasonable. Even though the mess bills have been clearly inflated artificially, the mess secretaries have not been given the opportunity to examine the mess bill for discrepancies in clear violation of the provisions of the Hostel Manual [sic],” it added.

According to the JNU hostel manual, the mess secretaries of all hostels are entitled to examine and countersign the monthly mess bills.

JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh said that a majority of the students have not received their fellowships for either one or two semesters. “In this situation, expecting students to pay mess dues is illogical, and forcing them to do so is unjust. The hostel presidents have demanded that the mess dues should not be paid before the mess secretaries examine them. And the students should not be asked to pay the bills till they receive their fellowship money,” she said.

While the residents of all hostels have raised objections over the university’s demand, students of the school of engineering are even more agitated since their hostel fee and other maintenance charges are higher than others. While residents of other hostels pay around 2,000 as rent and maintenance fee per semester, the School of Engineering students are being charged 11,000 per semester, excluding mess charges.

Residents in JNU hostels have to pay hostel and maintenance charges semester-wise. The mess charges are paid monthly.

Demanding the withdrawal of hostel fees for the upcoming semester in view of the prevailing situation, students of the School of Engineering wrote to JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday. “Last semester after the notice of the 13th March from the administration, we left for our homes. Although we had paid the hostel fees fully last semester, we didn’t live in the hostel from March onwards. As the next semester is expected to be continued in online mode and we will not be staying in our hostel for uncertain period, in that situation we are asked to pay the full hostel fee i.e. 11,000 which includes 5,000 as establishment charges and 6,000 for other charges like electricity, water etc. These facilities are not in use currently [sic],” the letter read.

“Due to the pandemic, every family is economically affected and we are not in a position to pay the huge amount of fees all together as you are also aware of our academic fees which is around 75,000 per semester. We all duly respect your decision for the academic fees but we all request you to withdraw our hostel fees for the upcoming semester [sic],” the letter read.

The university’s vice-chancellor could not be reached for a comment.

JNU registrar Pramod Kumar said that the administration has received the representations of students. “It’s been a part of the process in JNU that students have to pay room rent and maintenance charges and clear mess dues of previous months before registering for the next semester. Many students did not pay mess charges between January and March when the University was open. We demand only that. The allegations of inflated mess bills are incorrect. We have received their request. The administration will try to find the best possible solution,” he said.

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