Calcutta, March 2: Sugata Marjit, the chairman of the West Bengal Council of Higher Education, today said yesterday’s government advisory was not meant to give universities and colleges the freedom to conduct students’ union elections.
“There is no change in the earlier order of the state government where colleges and universities were asked to keep students’ union elections on hold,” Marjit said. “In the absence of elections, the students’ bodies will be run according to the rules of respective institutions.”
An advisory uploaded on the higher education department website last night stated that in colleges where the term of the students’ union had expired or was about to expire, the authorities could “take recourse to the provisions of their existing statutes, rules and regulations relating to the conduct of election to the students’ unions, and adopt appropriate arrangements”.
Principals of many colleges and officials of universities said the advisory had confused them and students.
“There was no need to give a clarification when the government has already finalised its stand to keep students’ union elections on hold at universities and colleges. Yesterday’s advisory and Marjit’s statements today have increased our confusion,” the principal of a south Calcutta college said.
On February 18, the higher education department had issued an advisory asking all colleges and universities to put on hold union elections for six months to prevent “untoward incidents” and maintain “peace and tranquillity” during board examinations.
But the second advisory yesterday had given the impression that the government had all but allowed varsities and colleges to hold union elections following their own norms, reversing its earlier stance.
A college principal said the last paragraph of the advisory was the “most confusing”. The last paragraph states: “It is hereby clarified that to deal with such situations (expiry of union term), the university and college authorities may take recourse to the provisions of their existing statutes and regulations relating to the conduct of election to the students’ union and adopt appropriate arrangements.”
Education department sources said what the government “actually meant” was that in colleges and universities where the tenure of the students’ union had expired or was about to expire, the institutions “should follow their own rules regarding the functioning of unions in the absence of elections”.