St Stephen’s Warns Teachers Protesting Against Church Involvement

The principal announced that the interview panel for admission would include a member of the Supreme Council.

3 min read
St Stephen’s College.

Teachers of Delhi University's prestigious St Stephen's College lodged their protest on Monday, 13 May, after the principal John Varghese purportedly announced that the interview panel for selection of students for admission would include a member of the Supreme Council, which includes six members of the Church of North India.

Teachers, who are members of the college's governing body, in a statement condemned the "illegal and unacademic decision taken by the Principal", saying it is in "violation of the College Constitution" and could "compromise the academic integrity of our admissions process."

Meanwhile, the Principal has sent a letter of ‘formal warning’ referring to a press release issued by the teachers. The letter terms the content of the release as “false and irresponsible” and “against the code of professional ethics and ethos of this institution”.

The letter has been addressed to Ms Nandita Narain of the Department of Mathematics.

The warning letter also says that the press release falsely claimed that the decision was taken on the Principal's behalf, instead of stating that it was the college Supreme Council's decision.

Warning letter issued by the Principal.
Warning letter issued by the Principal.
(Photo: The Quint)

As per the constitution of the college, the Supreme Council is not supposed to have any jurisdiction in the administration of the college, the statement of the governing body teachers’ representatives pointed out.

Speaking to The Quint on Tuesday, one of the governing body members said on the condition of anonymity that the announcement was made at the staff council meeting, where around 40 members were present.

“We are a democratic institution. But at the staff council (meetings), it has become a one-way process, a monologue. The principal keeps threatening us at these meetings. Yesterday too, no discussion took place... We cannot let the institution go down.”
Governing body member to The Quint

‘The College Belongs to Us, Teachers Have No Right to Object’

Regarding the matter, Supreme Council and Governing Body (GB) member Bishop Warris K Masih told The Indian Express, "It doesn't matter if it's never happened before. The college belongs to us. The teacher representatives have no right to object."

When questioned about the mandate of the college constitution, Masih once again told the daily that it "doesn't matter," adding that "these things" have been approved in the governing body. He further indicated that the rationale behind the decision was "concern about the 50 percent Christian students."

Responding to these statements of Masih, the governing body member quoted above said:

“There’s huge arrogance in this. The college is largely funded by the government – 95 percent comes from the government and only 5 percent is contributed by the GB. How can the college belong to them? They are taking it as their own private property and we object to that.”
Governing body member to The Quint

‘Never in the History of the College...’

The statement from teachers who are part of the governing body of the college said almost all permanent teachers present at the staff council meeting lodged their protest against the "unilateral announcement."

“The 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court that upheld the minority status of the college had permitted the college to have a separate admissions process, including an interview with 15 percent weightage, only because the interviews were conducted solely by the teachers of the college. Never in the history of the college has a non-academic person from outside the faculty of the college has been a member of the admissions process.”
Statement from governing body teachers’ representatives

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