Protests in St Stephen's over Church rep in student selection panel

st stephen's college

New Delhi: Students and staff members of St Stephen's college Friday staged a protest against the alleged interference of the church by including a member of the institution's Supreme Council in a panel to select students.

The Supreme Council is a subset of six members of the Governing Body (Managing Committee) and comprises all members of the Church of North India.

While the protesters wore black bands and held posters demanding perseverance of academic integrity, the students' union of the prestigious college has written an open letter to the college principal citing lack of communication opportunities with him.

"We want that the warning letters to teacher representatives, who objected to the interference of church, be withdrawn and the academic integrity of the teachers be upheld," said Nandita Narain, one of the three members of the governing body who condemned the institution's decision.

The protest call by the staff members had on Thursday prompted college authorities to put up a notice signed by principal John Varghese, saying there should be no "disturbance of working environment" in the college and those doing that will be dealt within the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules.

The college has also banned the entry of media persons in the premises. The notice put up by the college authorities also stated that there are examinations being conducted at present in the institution and any form of disruption to the exams will be dealt with strictly.

"We have always asked for a proper communication channel between the administration and the students. The students are having lots of concerns about the recent outcry in the college. As an elected body, we feel it is our duty to seek clarification from you so that everyone has a clear idea about what is happening and peaceful atmosphere can be restored in college," the open letter by students union read.

According to the college constitution, the Supreme Council of the college shall have the control of the religious and moral instruction of students of the college and of all matters affecting its religious character as a Christian college of the Church of North India.

Three members of the governing body – Narain, N P Ashley, and Abhishek Singh – condemned the "illegal and unacademic decision taken by the principal", that "could compromise the academic integrity of our admissions process" while demanding its withdrawal. They were also issued warning letters.