A draft hostel manual uploaded on the website of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has sparked outrage among residents. The JNU inter-hall administration, which looks after all its 18 hostels has sought suggestions on the draft rules from students and professors till October 18. Students alleged that the proposed regulations included an “appropriate dressing rule” in dining halls, hike in the hostel fees and a curfew time. On Sunday, the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) held an emergency meeting with the hostel residents.
The JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh accused the administration of clamping down on the rights of the students. She said that some of the changes were unprecedented in nature. Ghosh declared that the students had decided to initiate a signature campaign against the draft manual.
She said, “This kind of surveillance and curtailing of our basic right of movement has never been seen on our campus before. JNU is primarily a university of research scholars and known for its liberal campus. The student community of JNU on Sunday decided to start a signature campaign against the move instead of sending suggestions to the administration.”
Not allowing hostel residents to enter another person after 10.30 pm is also being looked down upon in the central varsity, where there have been no restrictions on freedom of movement traditionally. The councillor of Centre for Law and Governance, Farhat Salim, highlighted the importance of JNU’s uniqueness.
He opined, “In JNU, the manual rules have never been followed because of its unique structure. It’s purely a research institute. The average age of students in JNU is between 24 and 28 years and the university also has a hostel for married students. If the students are asked to be in their rooms by 11.30 pm, then what is the benefit of the 24x7 library system in the JNU?”
The Dean of Students, Umesh Kadam, defended the administration by pointing out that the rules were not new. He also stressed the need to periodically increase the hostel fees. Moreover, Kadam promised to take into account the suggestions of the students.
“It’s just that they were not properly followed. So many things have changed over the years. The system has changed, the management has changed and that’s why the manual has to be updated,” Kadam remarked. He added, “We cannot continue with the minimal amount we are charging for all the facilities. The university has recently installed online payment software in all hostels. We will not increase the amount arbitrarily. JNU will continue its model of no-profit and no-loss.”