| Students count referendum votes on Patna College premises on Monday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Patna University students are against a Rs 50-fine for bunking class but support the decision to keep the varsity’s central library open for 12 hours.
The views were indicated in a referendum various students’ bodies conducted last week. About 7,000 of the 9,500 votes cast had been counted at the Patna College premises till the filing of report on Monday.
While the referendum results are not binding on the university, they indicate popular opinion on the campuses. The referendum consisted of 13 points related to a recent directive by Patna University vice-chancellor Y.C. Simahadri. At the beginning of the new session, the university decided to impose a Rs 50 fine on students who skip class without prior information. Most students voted against the fine saying it imposes a financial burden on students.
They also backed the students bodies’ demand for setting up a gender-sensitisation cell at the varsity, filling up of vacant posts of teachers, holding of students body elections and improving infrastructure at the university.
Four students’ bodies — All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Students’ Association (Aisa), All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) and Chhatra RJD (the party’s students’ wing) — organised the referendum. Raj Sinha, a Patna University student associated with it, said: “The students were asked to give their opinion in the form of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a sheet of paper listing 13 points, like the Rs-50 fine for absenteeism, appointment of teachers, renovation of hostel, allotment of hostel to boarders and functioning of Patna University Central Library for 24 hours.”
Though the students supported many of the issues raised by students’ bodies, they have backed the varsity’s decision to not allot hostels to Patna College students. Akriti Sinha, a student of Magadh Mahila said: “Though the allotment of hostel at Patna College does not affect us directly, the boarders have remained a problem not just for the college but also for the university administration.”
Students also backed the university’s decision to keep the Central Library functioning for 12 hours while the students’ body wanted it to function round-the-clock.
The referendum process began on August 6 at Patna College, Vanijya Mahavidyalaya, and Darbhanga House. It was then carried out at Patna Science College, Patna Law College, BN College, Patna Training College, Women’s Training College, College of Art and Crafts, Magadh Mahila College and Patna Women’s College in a weeklong exercise. Students were given the paper consisting of 13 points and asked to drop it inside a box outside college after filling it up.
Students, teachers and university officials were all invited during counting of votes, but, barring few teachers, no senior official was present. A senior Patna University official said: “The university administration decided not to participate in the referendum as the university does not recognise the students’ bodies that carried it out.”
The students’ bodies would submit a memorandum based on the feedback received through the referendum to Raj Bhavan, education department and various college heads.