JNUTA Referendum: 279 of 300 Profs Who Voted Feel VC Should Resign

The academic fraternity of JNU has sought a referendum to stop the VC from ‘turning JNU into a teaching shop.’

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279 out of the 300 professors who came out to vote at the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teacher’s Association (JNUTA)-organised referendum believe that the present Vice Chancellor (VC) of JNU Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar should resign.

The referendum was organised following allegations against the present VC of turning JNU into a “teaching shop.” He has been accused of steadily pushing the varsity “towards a path of destruction under his leadership” and the JNUTA had called for the referendum on 7 August to decide whether he should stay or resign.

288 voters voted against the taking of a multi-crore HEFA loan that the university administration is contemplating to apply for, whereas four voted in favour of the loan.

While there were 586 valid voters in total, 300 votes were polled. According to office bearers, some teachers had also boycotted the elections.

The academic fraternity of JNU has sought a referendum to stop the VC from ‘turning JNU into a teaching shop.’
JNU teachers voting at the referendum.
(Photo Courtesy: Arpan Rai/The Quint)

What Do We Know So Far?

The academic fraternity of JNU has sought a referendum to stop the VC from turning JNU into a “teaching shop.”

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the harassment, targeting and humiliation of JNU teachers, by the Vice-Chancellor and this administration in various statutory bodies when the faculty members are merely discharging their duties.
JNUTA Statement

Critiquing the VC’s tenure, the teachers invoked the founding principles of JNU and said,

JNU was built with objectives of a socially, economically and a gender-just university and also achieved exceptional academic record much before joining of the present Vice Chancellor, into an authoritarian ‘teaching shop.’
JNUTA Statement

The teachers’ body also added that there have been deliberate attempts to bypass consultative bodies; completely overruling the opinion of teachers.

JNUTA President Sonajharia Minz said that “the teachers are experiencing heartburn for openly dissenting to the ideas and agendas presented by the VC.” Furthermore, the teachers have alleged exclusion from the process of consultation, citing bypassing of important decisions such as making all entrance examinations to JNU objective and exclusively online and introducing biometric system for marking faculty’s attendance.

“The VC shows absolute disregard for difference of opinion. Any difference of opinion with VC amounts to dissent now in the university. Earlier, the university had ample space for dissent” JNUTA President Sonajharia Minz said.

What Are the Charges Against JNU VC?

JNUTA has stated that there are “seven charges that emerged from the public enquiry held last year and critiqued the developments in the varsity; specifically over the summer break.

Another development being opposed by the JNUTA is a proposal where the university will apply for a loan of Rs 515 Crore from the newly set-up ‘Higher Education Funding Agency’ (HEFA). 
This loan, flowing from the concept of ‘graded autonomy’, places the University in an unprecedented situation of indebtedness. The VC will leave in some years but the University will be left in huge debt for years to come.
Sonajharia Minz, JNUTA President

The teacher’s body is also opposing the silence by the VC and the administration on the sexual harassment allegations levelled against faculty member earlier this year.

JNUTA, its statement said, “The House further rejects the plans for biometric attendance for teachers, which are claimed to have been ‘passed’ by the Academic Council without recourse to proper procedure - the proposal for attendance for teachers was neither on the pre-circulated agenda nor a tabled item at the 146th AC meeting, where it is deemed to have been “passed”.

Why Is the Referendum Route Being Taken by the Teachers?

JNUTA members claim that there has been no dialogue between the administration and University stakeholders. Suggesting that JNU would not have been embroiled in legal cases had the administration addressed the concerns of students and teachers on the campus, JNUTA President said,

Why do teachers and students of JNU have to go to court to fight the administration? This clearly reflects the lack of dialogue between the administration, students and teachers.
JNUTA President Sonajharia Minz

What Happens in the Referendum?

In its first ever referendum against VC Mamidala, the teachers body will seek opinion from varsity’s faculty to vote on two questions:

  1. ‘Should the JNU VC go? Yes/No’
  2. ‘Should the university be burdened with the HEFA loan? Yes/No’

The referendum will be conducted via secret ballot from 10 AM to 5 PM on Tuesday, 7 August, following which the counting of votes will be done at 5 PM.

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