The English and Foreign Languages University (Eflu) has been witnessing a spate of student agitations in last two months, but Vice-Chancellor Sunaina Singh says the administration is committed to building an educational centre par excellence. Edited excerpts of NEMMANI SREEDHAR’s chat with Dr. Singh.
Many are of the view that involving the police in the Mudasir Kamran episode led to his suicide. Why was police involved in the first case?
It was a student who lodged the police complaint; we did not approach them in the first instance. We constituted a fact-finding committee which submitted its report to the Ministry of HRD.
Students demanded that the proctor be suspended while this committee prepared the report. Why was no action taken?
The Proctor was sent on leave during the period.
You claim that issue was handled properly. Why then, did the students protest?
Only a handful of students were involved in these agitations. These were the people who wanted to control the administration by planting false stories in the media. After four days of disturbances, these trouble-makers backed down when a majority of students rejected their ‘leadership’.
Students allege that police has infiltrated the campus and are terrorising them.
After I took over as V-C, the first thing I did was to withdraw all cases registered against students and faculty members. But of late, our security staff has been reporting that outsiders are entering the campus after 6 p.m. So I sent a note to the police, asking them to patrol the campus in the evenings.
Some complain that once police enters the campus they will indulge in excesses. Can you ensure that they do not?
I requested them only to patrol and maintain peace on campus. With foreign visitors and girls living on the campus, student safety remains a top priority for us. I cannot teach the police how to do their job, but if a student is not guilty, he has nothing to fear. Intelligence agencies have always been involved in educational institutions and since this is an open campus we cannot stop people entering it.
What about the issue that came up in the German department?
As a Central University we have to follow UGC regulations and if students fail to secure minimum marks as stipulated, they cannot be promoted. Also, general category students can write supplementary exams three times and reserve category students four times. We cannot deviate from the existing rules for one or two students. Also, once students fails in their exams and are out of EFLU rolls, we cannot conduct remedial classes for them. Mastering a language is tough and if it is a foreign language, students should be more diligent.
What steps are you taking to improve students’ confidence in the university?
EFLU is a central university and we want to make it an institution of excellence and have covered a lot of ground in the last one year. We already have a top-class Disability Cell, and plans are afoot to rejuvenate the SC/ST Cell. We have also come up with a White Paper on helping ‘reserved students’ succeed. We want our students to gain proficiency, subject focus and soft skills. A new security policy will be put in place from next academic year and special attention will be given on academics and on helping students to perform better.
Did the disturbances affect the number of students applying this year?
No. When compared to last year, we received about 2,000 more applications this time. The situation is not as bad as some in the media are projecting.