Jadavpur University on Saturday decided to permanently shift all undergraduate first-year students to a separate hostel block to ensure freshers do not face “any more problems”.
It took JU 14 years and the death of a first-year student to implement a guideline that had been issued by the UGC in 2009.
Asked what took a university that prides itself as premier so long, pro-vice-chancellor Amitava Datta said: “There must have been some problems. We are looking into all that.”
“There are committees where all these things will be discussed and a decision will be taken very soon. We are taking a zero-tolerance stand (on this) so that all students can stay safe and carry on with their classes peacefully,” he added.
The “UGC regulation on curbing the menace of ragging in higher educational institutions, 2009”, says: “Freshers shall be lodged, as far as
may be, in a separate hostel block, and where such facilities are not available, the
institution shall ensure that access of seniors to accommodation allotted to freshers is strictly monitored by wardens, security guards and other staff of the institution....
“It shall be the responsibility of the member of the faculty assigned to the group of freshers to coordinate
with the wardens of the hostels and to make surprise visits to the rooms in such hostels, where a member or
members of the group are lodged; and such member of faculty shall maintain a diary of his/her interaction with the freshers under his/her charge.”
The guideline further mentions: “A round-the-clock vigil against ragging in the hostel premises, in order to prevent ragging in the hostels after the classes are over, shall be ensured by the institution.”
None of the first-year students that this newspaper has spoken to since Swapnadip Kundu’s death ever mentioned any vigil or monitoring of the conditions in which they were housed.
This newspaper had earlier reported Swapnadip was 18 years old. However, he was still 17. His Aadhaar card says he would have turned 18 on October 31, 2023. His name had been spelt as Swapnadeep by this newspaper but his Aadhaar card spells it as Swapnadip.
The JU authorities had started to shift all first-year undergraduate students who had been allotted rooms in the main hostel to the New Boys’ Hostel located on the university campus from Thursday night.
On Wednesday night, Swapnadip fell to his death from the second-floor balcony of the main hostel.
A UGC team is likely to visit the campus on August 16.
Senior JU officials met the first-year students at the New Boys’ Hostel on Saturday.
“We went to meet the first-year students to know if
they were having any problems. We have taken it (the death) very seriously,” pro-VC Datta said.
Asked why the authorities had to shift the freshers to a separate block, Datta said: “They (the first-year students) were facing some problems there. There has been an incident also. Based on that we thought it was very important to keep the first-year
students in a separate facility.”
Why were they not shifted earlier?
“It is not a question of negligence. It (students of the first year staying in the main hostel) has been going on for years. Now, an incident has happened, so based on that we have taken this step,” Data said.
Datta said that for the time being, the first-year students will be housed at a facility on the main campus separately. “This will be worked out in discussions with the dean of students,” he said.
The shifting process began on Thursday following a notice issued by JU’s dean of students Rajat Ray.
The notice said: “As directed, all undergraduate first-year students for the session 2023-24 allotted to A-1 block and A-2 block, main hostel, are instructed to shift temporarily to New Boys’ Hostel within today (Thursday) itself.”
It said: “It is further notified that no passed-out students, as well as outsiders, are allowed to stay inside the hostel with immediate effect. Hostel superintendents are requested to send the name/s of such passed out students or outsiders, as the case may be....”