NLU Odisha students commence indefinite protest citing chronic maladministration, arbitrary fee hike

Meera Emmanuel July 24 2019
NLU Odisha, NLU Odisha students

Students of the National Law University, Odisha (NLU Odisha) today commenced an indefinite protest citing lethargic administrative response to a number of issues, including poor infrastructure and faculty performance, arbitrary hostel rules and examination policies, as well as a fee hike for the incoming batches.

Speaking to Bar & Bench, a source said that the issues cited have been plaguing NLU Odisha for years. An initial list of demands released by the student body include the following:

  • Finalise deadline for the construction of the University Library: Bar & Bench was told that a make-shift library presently operates out of two or three rooms. Whereas a separate library building was expected to be constructed, it is stated that construction for the same has been stalled over the last few years. While the reason cited for the same is lack of funds, there are rumours that the construction has been stalled over a legal dispute.
  • Finish repairs at the Girls Hostel: The study body statement informs that female inmates have been forced to live in half-constructed, fungus-infested and water-logged hostel buildings, the construction of which had commenced in 2017. On a related note, the body has also called for the removal of the resident hostel warden.
  • Explain rationale behind Fee Hike: As per the statement, the administration has not given any reasons for hiking the fees for the incoming batch by Rs 30,000. The hike would effectively take the total feel payable for the academic year to Rs 2 lakh.
  • Remove Hostel CurfewIt is stated that the University had promised to do away with hostel in-times if the parents of 50% of the students gave signed consent for the same. However, the curfew is still in place.
  • Review Academic and Examination PoliciesAmong other issues, students claim that there are illogical medical and academic exemption policies. Objection has been raised against the discrepancy of syllabi of regular exams and exemption exams.
  • Release results of Faculty EvaluationThe statement claims that faculty who perform poorly do not face any sanction. Faculty evaluation forms filled in every year have absolutely no effect, as per the statement. Moreover, the process of faculty appointment itself is faulted as not being transparent.
  •  Other infrastructural issues raised include ensuring that the Air Conditioners in the Academic Block are made functional and repairs of sports facilities that were damaged following Cyclone Fani.

Bar & Bench was also told that there has also been no official audit of the University accounts over the last six years.

The decision to hold the protest followed two consecutive student general body meetings over the apparent reluctance of the University administration to resolve the cited issues within a reliable time frame.

Whereas the students briefly met the NLU Odisha Registrar and Vice-Chancellor Prof Srikrishna Deva  Rao over their demands today, it is informed that the administration was not forthcoming with any deadline to resolve the issues. Following the adamant stance of the administration, the students have decided to continue with the protest.

The press statement issued by the student body today also states:

"Important issues adversely affecting the living and working conditions within the campus have been ignored. The Girls’ Hostels are in terrible condition, rendering most rooms uninhabitable. A world-class library had been promised since the inception of the institution, but no progress has been made other than the completion of the basic structure. Several prejudiced academic and examination policies that are still in force. 

The fees for the upcoming batch has been increased by Rs.30,000, without providing a reasonable explanation. There have also been no positive steps taken to improve placement figures. These particular issues have been continuously raised for a number of years, but no significant steps have been taken by the Administration to remedy any of these. 

The Students of the University condemn this lethargy, and demand nothing more than their due right, the right to a University that provides a conducive environment for learning. The issues mentioned above affect the basic conditions in the University, and make it very difficult for the students to even attend classes regularly and comfortably, notwithstanding the fact that a portion of the student population does not even have a decent place to live... 

...The Students through this peaceful protest aim to stimulate the administration into doing their duty, and ensure that basic living and academic conditions are attained."

Attempts the reach the NLU Odisha administration bore no fruit.

[Read the Full Press Statement]

NLUO Protest Press Release - July 24, 2019

[Read the List of Demands by the Student Body]

NLUO Protest Student Demands- July 24, 2019

Feature Image taken from here

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