‘Anti-protest’ form: University of Madras drops move to gag students

Student bodies and educationists strongly objected to it, saying that forcing students to sign such a form was against the Constitution.
File photo of University of Madras
File photo of University of Madras

CHENNAI:  After flak from students and educationists, the sociology department of University of Madras on Tuesday dropped its decision to ask students and parents to sign a declaration form saying that students will not get involved in any protest on the campus, they do not belong to any unit affiliated to any political party, and they won’t remain absent from class without prior permission from the department head.

The students of MA Sociology second year were asked last Friday to sign the form which said, “if any student disobeyed any of the three rules, the head of the department can immediately dismiss him or her from the course”. Student bodies and educationists strongly objected to it, saying that forcing students to sign such a form was against the Constitution.

Students told TNIE that they had protested against lack of basic facilities in the department in May and the HoD had issued the circular to gag them. “In May, we had protested against lack of basic facilities such as drinking water in the department and it had not gone down well with the department head,” they said.

‘Mandatory form was drafted to silence students’

To ensure that students do not raise their voice against any problem, the HoD made it mandatory for second-year students to sign the declaration form,” a student of the department said. Educationist Prince Gajendra Babu said, “The principle of constitutional democracy doesn’t permit suppression of voice of dissent. A postgraduate student is an informed person and possesses a lawful right to criticise the policies.

It is wrong on the part of the department to issue such a declaration form.” Students’ Federation of India (SFI) too opposed the move and submitted a memorandum to the vice-chancellor of the university on Tuesday demanding immediate withdrawal of the form.”

According to sources, university authorities felt that protest by students had affected the NIRF ranking of the university. M Thamilarasan, head of the sociology department, told TNIE, “It was just an internal measure of the department to discipline students. Students are not required to sign the declaration form anymore.”

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