A few months back, when stones rained from across roads and protesting students had to face the violence that was unleashed afterwards, the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU), found itself on the opposite side of the students. Rather than speaking for the victims, it was accused of siding with the perpetrators of the violence. This was in stark contrast to the history of the student body, when the Union which was dominated by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) stood against the hooliganism of Youth Congress workers during the Emergency era of the 1970s. The Union which once stood to protect the freedom of expression has been accused of suppressing it after four decades.
In the days after the Ramjas incident, several programmes across different colleges and departments were cancelled or censored in the fear of instigating violence. When fests born out of the year-long work of students were cancelled, the Union, rather than coming forward to ensure peace and security of the students, went ahead to side with those who stood for censorship and prohibited certain plays from being performed.
The faculty at University of Delhi (DU) is witness to several student-led initiatives which grew into major forces in the country. The Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was one of those forces which grew hugely within this University. In recent years, several initiatives like the Pinjra Tod Movement and the hostel accommodation movement have grown within this campus. However, the Union, rather than being a facilitator, has been found on the opposing side of these movements.
All these arguments lead us to ask a simple question: Is the regular ‘student’ of the University represented as a part of the Students’ Union?
Institutionally, yes. Every student who is a part of the University pays a nominal fee every year which goes towards the day-to-day functioning of the Union and its budget.
But numbers speak a different story. Through a small analysis on the voting pattern in the University, it can be seen that the overall voting percentage is falling. An ordinary student of the University, who is excited about fests and worried about examinations, has seen an erosion of her or his interest in the election process. This eroding of trust should be a major concern for both the Union and the University. It indicates a potential lack of representation, which leads to increasing the distance between the students and the administration.
While student unions across the world are challenging conventions by fighting repression and standing for equal rights, the largest student union of our country stands on the path of losing its basic student character. This distancing movement of the Students’ Union from the students should be curtailed at the earliest. A misrepresented Union not only fails to serve its democratic purpose, but also leads to a large-scale failure to address problems which might flare up in the form of tensions among the administration and the very people whom it is meant to serve, the students.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat