The University of South Asia here has bummed out, expelled or suspended five students for misconduct without giving them a chance to defend themselves, leading to students who have been demanding an increase in stipends under the free shipping scheme for around 24 days to intensify its agitation on Saturday.
More than 80 students went on a one-day hunger strike to demand the reversal of the “unilateral” action against the five students, an increase in the stipend under the freeship scheme, and representation on key bodies dealing with issues of poverty.
Since October 13, SAU students have been sitting in a protest demanding an increase in master’s and doctoral scholarships. On November 1 they began an indefinite sit-in, occupying the lobby of the administration floor.
On Friday, the university supervisor issued expulsion orders to two protesting students: a master’s student and a doctoral fellow. “It has come to SAU’s record that since October 13, 2022, you have been persistently engaged in acts of indiscipline that are inconsistent with the relevant provisions of the SAU Rules/Regulations/Statutes. You have been constantly advised to adhere to the Student Code of Conduct, but have not done so. Therefore, he is expelled from the University with immediate effect. Furthermore, therefore, you are instructed to vacate the hostel immediately; no later than 24 hours from the receipt of this Order”, the expulsion orders read.
Two other students have been dismissed from the University “until the end of the current academic year” citing the same reasons. One more student has been suspended until the end of the current semester.
“Based on the aforementioned facts and the evidence recorded in the chamber, the president exercised his power under the aforementioned Rule 29 to approve the orders of expulsion, rustication and suspension, which were then issued by the procurator,” he added.
Students have demanded equal rights representation in forums such as the University Grievance Committee (UCC), the Grievance Redress Committee and the Gender Sensitive Cell. Currently, students are invited as observer members in the UCC and the complaint cell. Faculty members constitute these panels.
“In the statutes of the SAU, unilateral action is not foreseen. The university should have given the students the opportunity to defend. No notice of justification was issued. This is an arbitrary action of the university. This needs to be revoked immediately,” said Keshav Sawarn, MA sociology student.
“In cases of sexual or mental harassment, the student representative cannot defend the students by being a mere observer in the UCC or the complaints committee. We are demanding full membership for students so we can stand up for ourselves,” Sawarn said.
The university recently issued a notice to reduce the stipend of students who get freeships from Rs 5,000 to Rs 4,000, prompting protests. Following a discussion with students last month, the amount was reset to Rs 5,000.
However, the students demanded a stipend of around Rs 7,000 per month under the free shipping scheme in addition to
- Fee waiver for students whose annual household income is less than Rs 5 lakh or equivalent
- Fee waiver only for those whose annual household income is between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh or equivalent; Y
- Half fee waiver for those whose annual household income is between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh or equivalent.
The university administration said it had agreed to increase the canteen subsidy, which was around Rs 1,000 per student, but could not meet further demands.
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