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In a first, Jadavpur University VC leads campaign against alcoholism, drug abuse on campus

In April, the HRD ministry released the list of top 10 educational institutions in India. JU ranked 5th, one step ahead of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

kolkata Updated: Nov 01, 2017 22:21 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Jadavpur University,JU,Suranjan Das
JU VC Suranjan Das (second from right in front) and teachers at the rally against rising drug abuse and alcoholism among students on campus. (Snigdhendu Bhattacharya/ HT Photo)

Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das on Wednesday led a rally against alcoholism and substance abuse on the campus, marking the first such instance at the 62-year-old premiere institute.

In April this year, the Ministry of human resource development released the list of top 10 educational institutions in the country. JU ranked 5th, one step ahead of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Apart from Das, members of the administration and faculty walked around the campus alongside 400-odd students.

The banners they carried read, ‘thinking is a better option than drinking’, ‘love your family, not alcohol’ and ‘make JU free of drugs.’

“JU students have participated in protests connected to a wide range of social issues. It’s time they started addressing drug abuse as well,” the organisers announced over microphone as they toured the campus.

Read: Students suspend agitation after Jadavpur University executive council writes to govt

Speaking at the inauguration, Das said the university was doing extremely well in academics, given its national and international ranking, but substance abuse among students remained a cause for concern.

Asked why the authorities were not taking disciplinary action against errant students, Das said, “We believe dialogues work better than enforcement or punishment. JU has a very liberal atmosphere. Students here learn to raise questions and argue. That’s an integral part of JU’s culture. We, too, believe in the same.”

Incidentally, JU, a bastion of various brands of Left-wing students’ organisations, has often been described by the Akhil Bharat Vidyarthi Parishad (students’ wing of RSS) and the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad as “a haven for alcoholics and ganja smokers.” The three students’ unions in the science, humanities and engineering sections always rubbish the allegation. However, majority of these union leaders were not seen in the rally on Wednesday.

Read: Row over Facebook post naming 60 academics as ‘sexual harassers’

The programme was initiated by a section of research scholars and later supported by non-teaching staff and members of the faculty.

In the campaign material, JU was described as a citadel of education, culture and protest. Explaining this, Das said, “Protests and movements are part of JU’s heritage. This, too, is a social movement. We firmly believe that dialogues and awareness campaigns will help us fight rising alcoholism and substance abuse among students.”

Das, a historian who joined JU in 2015 after resigning as vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, is considered one of the most efficient VCs in JU, an institution that is known to be trouble-prone.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 22:21 IST