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Fee Waiver Row: Students Wear Badges of #injusTISS at Convocation

The students who had reportedly planned to disrupt the convocation proceedings instead held peaceful protests.

Updated
India
3 min read
File image of an older protest held at the TISS Mumbai campus
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Students at the Mumbai campus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on Monday, 7 May, held silent protests against the administration’s withdrawal of fee waivers to students from the SC, ST and OBC communities, even as the institute held its convocation programme.

The students, who had reportedly decided to disrupt the convocation proceedings earlier, retracted their plan and instead held peaceful protests.

Some students, including students’ union general secretary Fahad Ahmad, have also refused to collect their degrees on stage as a mark of protest.

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Ahmad told The Quint that when he went on stage to collect his degree, he attempted to present a memorandum of their demands to S Ramadorai, the chairman of the governing board, who refused to take it. In retaliation, Ahmed refused to collect his degree.

The media and the government will listen if there is an uproar regarding a Jinnah portrait in an educational institute. But when it comes to privatisation of education and denying poor children their education, then it falls on deaf ears. 
Fahad Ahmad, students’ union general secretary, to The Quint
Fahad Ahmad refusing to accept his degree.
Fahad Ahmad refusing to accept his degree.
(Photo: Fahad Ahmad)

Archana, another student from TISS, said that the students who had denied their degrees on stage will collect it from the office at a later date.

According to Hindustan Times, students were handed a circular issued by the Registrar of the institute, requesting them to hold peaceful protests.

Meanwhile, the students had reached a decision to hold a non-violent protest after a general body meeting on Sunday, 6 May. The students gathered around the convention centre with posters and banners, handing out badges that spelt ‘injusTISS.’

The students have been on protest since February, up in arms over the cancellation of the hostel and dining fee waivers that were earlier given to the marginalised communities.

Citing a notification that was issued by the institute, HT reported that while SC/ST students would now have to pay Rs 12,500 towards hostel and dining hall charges, OBC students would have to pay Rs 30,700.

The notification also reportedly said that the students will be required to make the payment for the academic year 2018-19 upfront.

Archana told The Quint that while the administration had ceded to their demands in writing last month, announcing that SC/ST students would be required to pay Rs 4,500 while OBC students would be required to pay Rs 12,500. However, the latest notification does not reflect these promises.

Last month, they said that they SC/ST students would be required to pay only Rs 4,500, while the OBC students would pay Rs 12,500 as hostel and dining hall charges. But now they have issued a new official notification, which negates their earlier promises. How will poor children pay the fees?
Archana, student

Speaking to HT, PK Shahjahan, the dean of student affairs, said the convocation ceremony went smoothly. However, he said only one student had given up his degree certificate in protest.

He also told Mumbai Mirror that while the amount to be paid was not mentioned on the TISS website, it had been made clear that if a student writes to the administration regarding their inability to pay the fees, the payment would be deferred.

Meanwhile, the payment of fees has reportedly been postponed from 8 May to 11 May.

However, postponing the date does not change anything as the administration is yet to answer the questions and demands posed by the students, said Archana.

How does this being postponed hold any good if the administration does not change its decision? They are giving in to privatisation of education, and have hiked the fees exorbitantly. No poor child will ever be able to study here anymore. 
Archana, student

Archana, who is set to attend the convocation ceremony, said that she would not refuse her degree as she “had struggled long for it.” She will, nonetheless, wear a badge in solidarity with the protesting students.

The two-day convocation will end on 8 May.

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(With inputs from Hindustan Times and Mumbai Mirror)

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