A proposal to introduce sweeping changes in existing Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hostel rules — including a revision of hostel fee structure, curfew timing of 11:30pm and “appropriate dress code” in the hostel dining hall — has been a bone of contention between students and varsity administration for the past two weeks.
The new hostel manual was passed by the Inter Hostel Administration (IHA)—a body which manages 18 JNU hostels — during a meeting on October 28. However, the executive council (EC), the major decision making body of the university, is yet to approve the manual.
The students have been demanding a roll back of the manual and have been holding protests at the campus since October 28. JNU Students Union (JNUSU) have also demanded a meeting with vice chancellor (V-C) Jagadesh Kumar to discuss the issue.
On Monday, hundreds of students held a protest outside the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the venue for JNU’s third convocation. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal were the chief guests at the event. The students blocked the entrance of the venue due to which Pokhriyal had to stay inside the building for over six hours.
As per the new hostel manual, the students will have to pay a service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. This charge did not exist earlier. The rent for a single-seater room has been increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month. The mess security fee, which is refundable, has been revised from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000.
Besides the fee hike, the hostel manual also mentions several rules such as hostel residents not being allowed in another person’s room after 10:30pm, mandatory permission from wardens for night outs, prohibition of cooking in hostel rooms and a fine of Rs 10,000 for breaching hostel norms.
JNUSU vice president Saket Moon said, “Our protest is against the hostel manual and the way it was passed by the IHA without any discussion with the students. We want the administration to withdraw it and hold the meeting again in a proper manner. Besides the fee hike, the hostel manual also mentions various regressive rules.”
The JNU administration, on the other hand, maintains that all rules and regulations are already there in the existing hostel manual. The varsity’s Dean of Students’ Welfare Umesh Kadam said that the fee has been revised after 10 years to improve the infrastructure. “All the rules and regulations are already there in the manual. It is just that they were not properly followed. So many things have changed over the years. The system has changed, the management has changed and that’s why the manual has to be updated,” he had said.
JNU registrar Pramod Kumar also issued a statement saying, “JNU is incurring an expenditure of more than Rs. 10 crores per annum for payment towards the service charges. These charges are not paid by UGC.”
Kumar said that the room rent in JNU hostels have not been revised in the last three decades. “The increase in the refundable mess security has become a necessity because of the increasing number of defaulters, who do not pay their mess bills,” he said.