DTF protests emergency AC and EC meetings to push through semesterised courses
The DTF expresses its sharpest criticism of the hurried manner in which meetings of the Academic Council and Executive Council have been called on the same day, Monday, 25 April. The Standing Committee on Academic Matters was given even shorter notice and forced to meet on Sunday, a holiday. The notification of the three meetings and the agenda were received by members only on Saturday evening, some as late as 11.30 at night. The meeting of the Academic Council has also been notified as a requisitioned and emergent meeting though the agenda are matters that require a regular meeting with adequate prior notice. The agenda includes a large number of syllabi, proposed changes in the Ordinances and post facto approval to decisions taken by the Vice-Chancellor under Emergency Powers. Several elected members at today’s meeting raised questions about its legality since some of the issues listed are before the High Court which is scheduled to hear the case on 28th April.
DTF elected member on the Standing Committee, Sheo Dutt, pointed out the disastrous consequences of rushing through major academic changes by scuttling democratic processes, academic debate and statutory provisions. He submitted a note of dissent and a protest letter, the texts of which are given below:
I object to the holding of this requisitioned and emergency meeting on the agenda listed. Notice of the meeting was received only in the evening yesterday. In the past requisitions submitted by elected members have repeatedly not been honoured; and yet this time such a meeting has evidently been deliberately planned and convened without giving even one day’s notice in order to deprive members of the possibility of reasoned deliberation on matters of utmost importance. No time was given to consult the concerned teachers about the items on the agenda. I accuse the Vice-Chancellor of complete disregard for democratic functioning, absolute indifference to serious academic issues and utter disdain towards the Delhi University Act, Statutes and Ordinances.
With regard to the items listed I have the following objections:
1. No time has been given for reading the syllabi.
2. The BA Programme Committee, which has members from each college, has not met with regard to the changes in syllabi listed, nor has it constituted any sub-committees to prepare new syllabi for the Application or Foundation Courses. By what procedure and by whom have the BA Programme syllabi proposed been prepared?
3. Proper procedures have also not been followed before sending the listed syllabi for discussion in the Academic Council
- a. Serious lacunae and irregularities were there in the constitution of the Faculty of Arts the meetings of which were held on 14th and 28th March. The names of members from around 25 colleges were missing from the official list of members put out by the University. This is in violation of Statute 9(3)(v). The members from these colleges have been denied the right to participate in deliberations about courses to be taught in these colleges. Though this was pointed out by several members at the beginning of the meeting, they were not heeded. The decisions taken in meetings of such improperly constituted statutory bodies cannot be considered valid.
- b. Syllabi were “approved” by the improperly constituted Faculty of Arts at both meetings, on 14th and 28th March, without circulating them in advance to members so that no application of mind was possible.
- c. Meetings of the Committees of Courses in the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences were held in a surreptitious and hurried manner without any democratic consultation. Colleges were not informed that syllabi had been put on the website, therefore they could not respond. The proposed syllabi was put on the website on 24th February with last date for responses being 2nd March. The Committee of Courses meeting was held on 3rd March and the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences meeting on 9th March.
4. Additionally, decisions have been taken through a process of intimidation and threats by the University administration.
In view of the above, I record my dissent and dissociate myself from the deliberations of this meeting.
The Academic Council meeting convened on an emergent basis for 25.4.2011 vide a notice dated 22.4.2011 on agenda items that require serious application of mind and impact the quality of education imparted to students is illegal, academically unacceptable and is an attempt to manipulate decisions and cover up the wrongdoings during the past years.
It is shocking that while in the past requisitions for Academic Council meeting have been repeatedly and as a matter of routine dishonoured, an emergent meeting has been called to consider courses, curricula and syllabi. Framing of syllabi is a serious academic issue requiring time for due application of mind. If courses are to be approved in haste without proper study by this Committee or the Academic Council, the same would amount to an arbitrary decision and would adversely affect the quality of education in the University of Delhi.
The agenda for the emergent meeting of the Academic Council also includes items relating to action taken by the Vice Chancellor during the last year, amendments to Ordinances relating to implementation of the semester system and even consider remaining issues with regard to the semester system. These too require time and deliberation. Any decision in these regards without adequate reflection will be arbitrary and will have adverse academic consequences.
It has also come to our notice that the Executive Council has been scheduled for tomorrow at 4.00 pm. It clearly shows that the Vice Chancellor not only does not intend to provide time for perusing the courses and reflection but also that he he does not want to provide adequate time for deliberation in the Academic Council. It appears that the Vice Chancellor is confident that he could influence the Academic Council into taking such decisions which he wishes to take to the Executive Council. The undue haste shown in convening meetings which are to consider serious matters smacks of considerations other than academic.
We strongly protest against such manner of decision making and express our dissent on approval of any syllabi, approval of action taken by the Vice Chancellor, preparation of draft Ordinances or hurried decisions about unspecified remaining issues regarding semesterisation. We urge the Chairperson of the Committee and the Vice Chancellor not to proceed with the agenda in these meetings in the interest of academic standards and in view of the Act, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations governing the functioning of the University and its Authorities.