Hindu College Boys’ Hostel ended its strike on Wednesday, 26th February 2020 after the administration agreed to their demands. Three students were on a hunger strike since Monday.
The residents of Hindu College Boys’ Hostel had posed the list of long-standing demands to the Principal on Monday, 24th February 2020 and on her failure to address them, they began an indefinite strike at 1:30 pm in front of the college administration. Around 50-60 students were protesting against three major issues:
- Merit criterion that was increased for the readmission of second and third years including PWD students
- Resolving of Wi-Fi problems.
- Reinstallation of hostel boundaries that were broken for the construction of a food joint PAM (Pizza and More) within the hostel premises.
The present criterion for admissions and retention of seats in the hostel is 6.5 CGPA for Arts and 7.0 for Science and Commerce courses and considered averse to the students participating in extracurricular activities or preparing for entrance exams. The residents demanded revision in the re-admission criteria, decreasing it to the previous 6 CGPA for Arts/Humanities courses and 6.5 CGPA for Science and Commerce courses and scrapping it altogether for Persons With Disabilities (PwD) students. In the official application to the Principal, the President of the Hostel Union writes that in case a student fails to maintain the criteria then his contribution in ECA and Sports should be considered.
Image Caption: Students write to the Principal for redressal of their demands.
Regarding the Wi-Fi issue a resident of the hostel quotes, “Wi-Fi concerns the accessibility of study material to the students since DU servers provide access to academic websites and even general connectivity considering the poor signals around the campus.” In fact, a payment of Rs 3,500 was taken at the beginning of the academic year for replacing the existing Wi-Fi system but no action was taken.
Pizza and More (PAM) is a shop in the college that was being shifted in one of the hostel lawns since a new building was being built over there. According to the students, the construction of the cafe in the hostel lawns is an attack on their democratic spaces where they can sit, talk, organize events or play cricket. A resident anonymously told us, “The decision of PAM being constructed in our hostel lawns indicates the increasing privatization in our college. Moreover, it would create inconvenience for the residents especially the ones residing in rooms facing these lawns since their privacy would be in threat and also the cooking would cause a lot of smoke”. Some parts of the construction were started without the consent of the hostel union after which it was destroyed by the students the very next day.
The students ended their strike on Wednesday, 26th February 2020 after two of their three demands were accepted. They have been assured by the authorities that they will look into the Wi-Fi problems and construction of PAM. The residents reported, “The Principal told us that the readmission criteria are decided by the warden and hostel committee. Since we could get her to accept what was in her hands, we stopped protesting in front of the Principal’s office. The warden also has assured us that the hostel committee will try to relax the criteria especially for PWD students.”
DU Beat reached out to the Union members and residents on hunger strike for their statement, but is yet to receive an official response from their end. This report will be updated as and when the parties comment.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives