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Union-less college finds favour in Cooch Behar

A girls’ college has become popular in Cooch Behar town by saying no to students’ unions.

Thakur Panchanan Mahila Mahavidyalaya, set up in 1981 on Magazine Road, has become a first choice for both parents and students as they feel a campus without politics is better for the academic environment.

Political unions had tried to open units in the college from the start but had faced resistance from teachers and students. “They have never come back as none of the students wants any political activity here,” says principal Manjuri Biswas.

They still try, indirectly, say authorities, but face stiff opposition.

Biswas says it was easier to resist the unionisation because it is a girls’ college.

It is not that the students of the college do not have a say in how the institution is run. Each year students meet and select a representative from among them who becomes a member of the college governing body. The representative is usually a second-year student, the principal says.

Jaba Roy, a third-year arts (pass) student, sits on the governing body now.

“I took admission to this college as it did not have a Trinamul, Congress or a CPM students’ union. I know about the unrest students’ politics causes in other colleges. At the governing body meetings I have talked about problems faced by students, development of the college, organising cultural programmes and sports. Things work out extremely well this way,” Jaba says.

A prominent Forward Bloc leader of Dinhata, not wanting to be named, says his daughter, a student of English (honours), chose Thakur Panchanan Mahila Mahavidyalaya for this reason. “No parent wants his or her child to go to a college and experience violence. Admitting one’s daughter to this college will ensure that she does not face any violence,” he says.

The president of the college governing body, Amina Ahmed, who is also the Trinamul Congress vice-chairperson of the Cooch Behar municipality, said the sentiments of the students and the teachers should be respected. “The students and the teachers do not want politics on the campus and therefore it should not be imposed on them,” she said.

The two other unions, SFI and the Chhatra Parishad, admitted their “failure”.

“We want all colleges to have elected unions, but the students of this particular college are not willing to listen to us. We will never force them into it,” says Debajyoti Goswami, the district secretary of the SFI. Abhijit Deybhowmick, a Chhatra Parishad leader of the district, said it was always good for students to be involved in the democratic political process. “Being politically active is good for all students before they begin fending for themselves and all colleges should have students unions,” Deybhowmick said.

But the principal says that the advantages of having no students’ union are clear. “We frequently see violence and ugly scenes connected with college politics, examinations and even admissions. We have no such problem as from the very outset the college authorities had decided not to allow any students’ union to open their units here,” she adds.