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Let staff protest, move classes: VC

Calcutta, Dec. 3: Calcutta University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das has suggested what no educational institution in the country had probably thought of before: shift classes elsewhere to make room for politics.

“We have failed to impose curbs on protests organised by employees’ associations despite issuing repeated instructions to ensure that such programmes are held without disrupting atmosphere in the campus,” Das said, when asked whether the university was planning to impose curbs on protest rallies held by employees’ associations.

“It is my personal opinion that we would have to think about shifting departments, being run on the College Street campus, to spare students the hassle of such agitations.”

On November 27, two Trinamul trade union groups exchanged blows and hurled allegations at each other in the corridor in front of the vice-chancellor’s office at the hallowed Darbhanga building on the College Street campus of CU.

Trinamul MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay accused a party colleague owing loyalty to MP Mukul Roy of assaulting him.

Many university employees stopped work and stood by to look at the “tamasha”.

Today, Das said: “May be the future vice-chancellor will execute this (shifting of classes), letting the College Street campus operate only as the administrative headquarters.”

Das, however, has three-and-a-half years of his second term left, which should be enough to execute what he has conceived if he is serious about it.

He reasoned that CU’s six other campuses didn’t witness such disruptions and would be able to host the departments if they were shifted.

The College Street campus, which is known as the Asutosh Siksha Prangan, houses 13 departments, among them are Bengali, English, commerce and Urdu.

If the VC’s plan is to be realised, the 13 departments would be relocated in a phased manner to six other campuses that are already suffering from a severe space crunch, said a university official.

“I don’t know how this can happen. All the campuses were built factoring in optimum space utilisation for a certain number of departments…. They are not in a position to accommodate any new departments,” said the official.

He added: “Besides, the departments in the prestigious College Street campus were developed keeping in mind the academic atmosphere of the locality, which has several colleges, schools. Shifting the departments, because of the failure to curb unlawful protests, would rob the College Street campus of its sheen and historical importance.”

According to Das, the university issues circulars from time to time prohibiting the use of microphones during agitations, but to no effect.

“Employees’ associations of all hues have violated the rule. Employees should be sensible enough to adhere to the regulations,” said Das.

The university authorities, who had vowed to take stern steps last week against those who protested on the campus on November 27, could not constitute an inquiry team till Monday to probe roles of the employees responsible for vandalism at the university.