The following report was written with the help of M from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
In April 2015 the University Grants Commission (UGC) released a new set of guidelines for all Higher Education Institutions (HEI) which are suppose to ensure a “safe, secure and cohesive learning climate” and that each HEI “can be transformed into [an] oasis of safety, security and study” (UGC Guidelines on Safety of Students on and off Campuses of Higher Educational Institutions, p2). The guidelines are not binding but they carry much weight. Under the guise of security concerns a new set of repressive measures are suggested. The complete set of guidelines can be downloaded here: http://ugc.ac.in
The militarization of campuses is a development that can be observed in different parts of the world. Also in Taiwan, the USA, Singapore and Australia (just to name a few) established police departments on campus, comprehensive video surveillance and/or tracking of the movement of students (e.g. with the help of RFID chips) are no exceptions.
The recently released guidelines come in a context in which there is widespread unrest on campuses across India due to the policies of the hindu nationalist government (in power since 2014) which is trying to stifle academic freedom and prevent emancipatory student and teacher activities. In a climate where they have to deal with dissent and intensive protests the government works on creating an architecture of control. Especially efforts to further dismantle public education, to promote the marketization of education and to convert universities into ideological factories provoke protests across India.
Now that some institutions began to implement the UGC guidelines a counter movement is emerging.
Awareness of the guidelines began to spread when the University of Hyderabad allowed police to enter the campus and started to patrol it. As expected various incidents of police harassment were reported.
To fight the guidelines teachers and students began to get organized in recent days:
“The Hyderabad Central University general body meeting (UGBM) held on Tuesday voted in favour of a police-free campus and also rejected the new hostel code of conduct.
A statement said that 823 students attended the general body meeting presided over by students’ union president Vincent Benny. The meeting unanimously passed resolutions rejecting the MHRD’s circular of installing police outposts inside the campus and also against the new hostel code of conduct as it was prepared without taking into the views of the students’ union.
The students have been protesting the university’s decision to allow police on the campus.”
– Sept. 9, 2015: http://thehindu.com
“University of Hyderabad suspended five Dalit student leaders of ASA as protests intensified on campus. Ambedkar Students’ Association president Dontha Prashanth, Rohith Vemula, Vijay, Seshu and other one cadre have been suspended for 6 months because of protest against police interference on campus.
Now, students of University of Hyderabad are protesting police interference on campus which, besides the presence of police personnel, involves distribution of pamphlets related to law and order and also occasional enquiries and questioning.”
– Sept. 9, 2015: https://maktoobonline.wordpress.com
“Faculty members of the University of Hyderabad will go on an indefinite relay hunger strike starting Thursday to protest against “gender and racial discrimination” on Gracious Temsen, an associate professor of the varsity.”
– Sept. 10, 2015: http://thehindu.com
“The University of Hyderabad has angered students by inviting police to patrol the campus at night, becoming a test case for a slew of stringent security guidelines the University Grants Commission has issued to campuses countrywide.
Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University who has initiated a Facebook protest against the “draconian” guidelines, said they were an assault on freedom and privacy and would make students feel more insecure than safe. […]
The University of Hyderabad, a central institution, cited no specific reason when it gave the police free access to its campus in May, weeks after the guidelines were issued in April. From July, an armed police patrol has been driving around the campus every night.”
– Sept. 14, 2015: http://telegraphindia.com
This reminds me of the statement against (state) repression released by activists on the ISM two years ago: http://global-ism.space
We will try to report about any further developments in the struggle against the UCG guidelines in the future.