Polls on campus have educators worried
The new Maharashtra Universities Act that will come up for discussion today has a clause about bringing back student elections; the prospect has excited students
The plans of bringing back students’ elections in Maharashtra after almost over two decades have excited many students. The new Maharashtra Universities Act, which is to be tabled in the ongoing Assembly session, has a clause about bringing back student elections.
Mumbai University students, members of a group called University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE), at a recent protest against an ABVP programme at the Kalina campus. File pic
The new Act is expected to come up for discussion today. For many students, the talking point currently, is the suggestion about bringing back students’ elections.
Despite the recent political activities in Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), students’ unions are hopeful for a positive nod, while academicians have raised concerns.
Aniket Ovhal, Mumbai secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) said, “It is good that the government is finally thinking of bringing back student elections. This will give voice to students’ issues.”
Talking about the recent controversies — at HCU and JNU — Ovhal said, “Wherever the controversies happened, campus elections already existed. In Maharashtra, students are getting newly introduced to the concept and their response is phenomenal. These activities are creating awareness among students. If at all elections begin in Maharashtra, the issues are going to be much different from students’ day-to-day issues and other problems of youngsters.”
Expressing their plans to begin a membership campaign with much vigour from the coming academic year, Youth president of the Nationalist Congress Party, Amol Matele said, “With the recent activities, it has been observed how much students are interested in having elections on campus. This is because they have strong opinions and want their issues to be voiced by representatives they can trust.”
However, academicians feel it is better to keep campuses away from politics. The principal of a Matunga college said, “We have been fortunate until now because politics had not reached our campuses. From the recent activities, it is clear what happens when campuses are being politicised. Youth wings of different political parties have already started showing their presence on campus by conducting activities in solidarity of different sides and getting students’ attention.”
“Having elections on campus so that students can have a voice of their own is perfectly understandable. But given the current scenario, it is difficult to keep political parties out of these campus elections.
In 1991, elections on campus had stopped after interference of political parties went beyond control. A similar situation should not arise. And most importantly, academics should not suffer in the name of politics,” a principal of a college from Bandra added.
An elected students’ body on campus comprises representatives of students who are elected after a voting procedure. These members are expected to function like elected leaders. Their tasks include conducting students’ activities, being a medium between authorities and students, taking students’ issues to authorities and working towards a logical conclusion of their problems, while working in tandem with all authorities.
Ruchita Gaikwad, student, Ruparel College
Friends from other parts of the country talk about the entire excitement of campus elections. But more importantly, if elections happen, a general secretary of the college will be elected. Somebody who cares about students, or at least is known to students, so that they can approach him with their issues.
Jayesh Shah, UPG college
Students definitely need a representative, but if those again are from the same political parties who have disappointed us, then there hardly remains much hope.