Protests at Ambedkar University in Delhi erupted on Thursday, October 1, as students called for, among other requests, a boycott outside the Vice Chancellor’s office seeking a fee concession.
In the midst of a strong police presence right outside the school, more than 20 students came together to demonstrate, refusing to leave before meaningful steps are taken to address their demands.
In-person courses at the Ambedkar University have been discontinued for six months now in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, and as classes begin online, all practical work for students who need to attend field trips and seminars has also been discontinued.
We have been protesting for months now. On 7 September, the Delhi Police threatened us with FIRs for the first time we called for a boycott. We were refused a meeting with the Delhi CM and Deputy CM, and the Dean and Registrar made empty promises through and through, “says Aditi, a university student pursuing masters in Sociology for the second year.”
Students say that in August, the administration agreed to pay internet fees and offer infrastructural assistance, such as tablets, to students who do not have online classroom access devices. The pledge has not, however, been held so far, they claim.
The students also say that the university is not able to forgive or reduce the total fees for field work and on-campus facilities.
I have to pay a semester fee of Rs 32,300 and they also charge us additional mural costs of Rs 5,000 for field work that we are unable to do because of the pandemic, “says Navina Lamba, a Masters in Visual Art second year student and a member of the Student Council.” “The least they can do is give us a concession fee or scrap the additional mural costs for School of Culture and Creative Expression students,” she said.
In addition, fees have been high in recent years, and although the university has stopped raising fees by an additional 10 percent this year, they continue to charge for services that have not been used by students.
Students are also disappointed that the administration did not grant a student welfare fund set up for the financial assistance of students for two semesters, contributing to the woes of poor students.