Delhi

DUTA up in arms against St. Stephen’s interview panel

The professors have objected to the move saying that the decision is a violation of the college’s constitution.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and students’ bodies on Tuesday demanded a rollback of the decision to include a ‘Supreme Council’ member in the interview panel for admissions to St. Stephens College. They also condemned the “intimidation” of teachers who opposed the move.

Following a statement on Monday by three dissenting professors of the college who are also members of the governing body, principal John Varghese sent out a “formal letter of warning” to them saying that their comments were “...a complete concoction, factually and legally incorrect...” and instructing “not to repeat such irresponsible and unbecoming behaviour…failing which the college will be forced to take appropriate action against you”.

Governing body meet

He wrote that the decision to include a member appointed by the Council in the interview panel, was made by the Council itself and not by the principal and that those guidelines were “duly reported” in the governing body meeting held on March 14, in presence of the teacher representatives.

In their statement, the professors have objected to the move, saying that the decision is a violation of the college’s constitution, in contravention of the Supreme Court judgment which allowed the college to conduct interviews for admissions on the grounds that they would only be conducted by teachers and alleged that there was a conflict of interest in the principal bringing in another member of the Supreme Council given that the Council also decides his appointment.

Nandita Narain, Associate Professor at the college, one of the professors who received the warning letter maintained that the proposal had not been discussed at the governing body meeting, during which the teacher’s representatives had taken notes. Minutes of the meeting have not been circulated so far. She added, “Even if it had been passed, it is against the constitution of the college.”

‘Silencing dissent’

The DUTA termed the letter a “vindictive step to silence dissent, criticism and expression.. Nothing but a guilty mind faced with public outcry over a serious step that it cannot defend by offering credible arguments can explain such arbitrary and authoritarian action.”

It said that the grounds on which the letter had been issued were silly, in that the principal seemed to want to clarify that it was the SC’s decision and not his. It questioned his role as the academic head of the institution and said that “..such use of laughable arguments only points to the possibility of sinister, and not merely ignorant, considerations at play”.

The Student’s Federation of India wing of St. Stephen’s College and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad also condemned the move. The SFI said that it would lead to “more back-door admissions” and that it stood with the faculty in it’s struggle for a democratic space. The ABVP as well as the DUTA have warned of protests if the move is not rolled back.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:40:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/duta-up-in-arms-against-st-stephens-interview-panel/article27131717.ece

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