On July 28, 2016, Sumedha Biswas, a student at Christ University, Bangalore wrote a piece on Youth Ki Awaaz criticising the university’s decision of calling students to college at a time the city was locked down due to a ‘bandh’.
“While we understand that there are deadlines and schedules to be followed, from the student’s perspective, it almost seems as though you do not care about our safety,” Sumedha wrote, detailing the troubles she had to face to reach college in light of the University’s mandatory 85 percent attendance rule.
Soon, we started receiving more accounts from the University. Over the next one month, YKA received tens of accounts from not only students but also parents of students at Christ University.
From unreasonable evaluation methods to attendance rules, the varsity’s dress code to the dismissal of a professor (and even an alleged case of sexual harassment), students, teachers, and parents used YKA to extensively write about issues they faced at the university. The platform, in fact, received a complaint from Karnataka police against one of the posts, asking us to take down the same.
Mind you, all these were stories written by people who were directly associated with Christ University. There were stories that were extremely critical of the university. There were also accounts that praised the varsity for its good practices.
As an objective media platform, Youth Ki Awaaz published all these accounts without prejudice. Which is why news that the University has blocked access to Youth Ki Awaaz’s website on its server comes as a shock to the platform.
On Saturday, a student from the university wrote to YKA, detailing the varsity’s decision to block the website in light of the many stories submitted by its students and faculty in 2016.
Universities are places where students learn to think, argue and disagree. Where they learn to form opinions and voice it. A good educational institution gives students space and encouragement to nurture this voice. Banning mediums of free expression, needless to say, goes against this spirit. Such a clampdown not only sends a wrong message to students but also doesn’t behove a varsity of Christ’s stature.
The University would do well engaging with its teachers and students to actually solve their grievances, rather than shooting the messenger.