Jamia Millia Islamia Students Write to Call Out the Regressive Administration for Trying to Curb Dissent

Jamia Millia Islamia continues to trample on student’s rights and continues its attempts to drown the voice of dissent against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. Students had registered their protest against the saeme through a letter during the inauguration of a new hostel by the HRD minister, Javadekar. Keeping up with its reputation of the past few years, the authorities issued a show cause notice against the students. This is a letter from two PhD students who have decided to call out the university administration for its patriarchal, dictatorial, and repressive actions. 

A university should be the beacon for social revolution against patriarchy

Stop sending Show Cause to dissenting girl students of Jamia Millia Islamia

“The authority here is the funny general whose tank is a powerful vehicle;
it smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men. But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.
Its bomber is powerful. It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect: It needs a mechanic.
But this authority doesn’t know we, the students, are very useful.
We can build, repair, drive and fly…But we have one defect: We can think, we can dream.”

On October 7, 2016, the ‘mighty’ hostel administration in Jamia Millia Islamia once again employed its age old weapon of show cause notice to suppress the dissenting and democratic voices of the Students. In a vindictive action in the aftermath of the open letter written at the time of the visit of HRD minister to inaugurate new hostel, the administration served show cause notices to the students. The students showed non-participation with a Govt. that institutionally murdered Rohith Vemula. Begum Hazrat Mahal Girls’ Hostel residents received the stern ridiculous warnings from the authority which ‘places itself above the society of students’.

The students have been asked to explain their ‘misconduct’, ‘rude behavior’ and ‘non-participation in hostel activities’. Jamia hostel administration regularly issues bizarre and show cause notices to scare students to silence. The administration punishes for reasons that it can not even properly articulate and hides behind such vague terms as ‘misconduct’, and ‘rude behavior’, without describing the behavior itself which is thus labeled. The content of the curricular and co-curricular activities aims to make the students into docile robots who just follow the instructions without thinking about the implications of those instructions.

A university should be the beacon for social revolution against patriarchy. Instead, the hostels perpetuate the patriarchal stereotypes about women when they organize for its female residents such programs as dancing, cooking and salad making competitions which are seen as ‘the proper work for women’ in our society. Women’s compliance is ensured through ‘mandatory participation’. Non-participation in protest or otherwise is described as ‘misconduct’ and ‘rude behavior’. Hostels engage in constant infantilization of adult women, making hostels into prisons. The administration issues show cause if the students take ‘too many leaves’ from hostel. As adults, the students are at full liberty to take leaves whenever they require. Most of the times however, it is the women’s hostel rules regarding leaves and late nights themselves that force many women to stay out even when they do not want to.

Protest against the regressive rules of the university  Source - The Wire
Protest against the regressive rules of the university
Source – The Wire

Why is the administration so scared of the students, that it feels threatened even by simple democratic actions of the students, like taking too many leaves or late nights from the hostel, or non-participation in hostel programs? Is the administration afraid of the fact that students think? Why do they want to curb free thought at any cost? Why is it that in our educational institutions, obedience is valued more than any other quality in students? Where will such education systems take us that construe questioning as ‘misconduct’ and ‘rude behaviour’? Why does our education system want us to be politically illiterate?

We dream for a university that upholds a real space of freedom of opinion. For this we fight. We might lose but we also recognize that those who don’t have already lost. Admin has lost a game to the students. A game that is built under the special repressive force of state but always identified and located by the students who dream to materialize their own rights in a university where whispered threats try to seize us. We call for a united fight against the act of sending absurd show causes to students en-masse who differ, who voice a dissent to exercise a thought that stands with the larger struggling mass of the society and refuse to align with a Govt. and state nexus that only makes obedient robots who spill patriarchal and authoritarian venom on dissenters. Students have the democratic rights to refuse thousands of HRD ministers like Javadekar or any ‘generals’ who institutionally murder students, privatize the institutions in the name of expansion strategy or quality education, sell education to traders making it a tradable commodity, attack poor ,Dalits, Muslims, other minorities and Adivasis, assault students coming from lands fighting for their self-determination. When state effectively tries to lull the ordinary person to sleep by obscuring the important basic fact only revolutionary unity of students can create a new organization ,that is capable of serving the exploited against omnipotence of big banks ,grand scale privatization policy and acute repression.

Dhrupadi Ghosh, Talha Rehman
Department of Sociology and Islamic Studies
University of Jamia Millia Islamia
New Delhi-25

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