Ashoka students call off strike; vow to continue fight for ‘academic freedom’ | #students | #parents

Ashoka University students’ union has called off its six-day strike after the vice-chancellor and the founders of the institute accepted their demands including allowing their representative to join the Board of Management (BoM) meetings.

The students were protesting against the resignations of professors Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian last week. The protests continued even as the two issued a statement on Sunday along with the university acknowledging “lapses in institutional processes”. The students also boycotted classes on Monday and Tuesday.

“Over the last week, we have observed the power and impact of collective action. We witnessed a strong sense of community that emerged for one of the first times since we went online. We sincerely thank you for your undeterred support and resilience for the past 6 days. We sincerely appreciate your participation in the protest. With the Vice Chancellor’s email today morning, we are officially closing the strike,” the union said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

“However, this is not to say that the movement must end. We must continue coming together, asking questions, making art, and discussing academic freedom and the precarious political situation we find ourselves in. We must continue showing solidarity with our faculty members, workers, each other, and movements against injustice beyond Ashoka.”

Also Read | Indian universities, 2010-2020: A decade in protest

The statement added in this fight for academic freedom, they have made progress. “…but still have a long way to go. We will be working on more permanent safeguards for academic freedom from our end and please reach out if you have any ideas on the same. “

Malabika Sarkar, the vice-chancellor, Wednesday wrote to the students assuring them that a student member will attend the upcoming meeting of the board. “You will be able to communicate all student-related decisions of the board of management once the minutes are confirmed and shared with you by the registrar. The workers’ welfare committee will be reconstituted in consultation with the relevant stakeholders,” she said in the email.

On Tuesday, Ashoka founders met the union members and promised that their views would be incorporated into decision-making processes.

The news of Mehta’s exit broke on Thursday last. Subramanian, India’s former chief economic adviser, also resigned a day later saying that Mehta’s exit reflected poorly on the university’s ability to protect academic freedom.

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