Staff association seeks panel to assist students, St Stephen’s principal says no need

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By: Express News Service | New Delhi | November 21, 2020 5:49:14 am

LSR suicide case, lady sree ram college, St Stephen, DU student suicide, student lack of funds, students, education news, du news,St Stephen’s college. (File)

A demand by the Staff Association of St Stephen’s College, to constitute a committee comprising the heads of all courses to “consider needs” for financial assistance to students, has been shot down by the Principal, who said it will “not be required” and that they could only recommend cases of “deserving students”.

In his email response to the Staff Association president Nandita Narain, Principal John Varghese also said he was “disappointed” by the email and that it was “least required”. He said “collective responsibility” was the need of the day, and that the pandemic was not the time for “pettifoggery” and “one-upmanship”.

Narain said she raised the issue again at a Finance Committee meeting Friday. By evening, the bursar put out a notice inviting applications from second and third year students “for a limited number of college bursaries”. To apply, the applicants need to have a first division and family income below Rs 5 lakh per annum. They should also not have any other scholarship above Rs 20,000 per month.

Narain had Thursday written to Varghese asking him to constitute the committee, and also consider the possibility of distributing laptops to those in need. The letter also referred to the suicide of a DU student “as a result of financial distress and lack of institutional support”. Aishwarya Reddy (19), a second-year Lady Shri Ram College student, had committed suicide on November 2 at her Telangana home. Her family couldn’t afford a laptop for her to attend online classes.

In his response, Varghese said, “Please be informed that the college and every working part of the college administration/community has ONLY the interest of the students at heart… I feel a little disappointed that a communication of the kind that you have sent was done. It is least required.”

“The college administration, including the Principal and the Bursar, are most accessible and, in fact, a recent communication by the Bursar also bears out the fact that some student issues pertaining to fees have been addressed. There has been no instance where a student has ever been turned away for want of funds; in fact the administration has only sought ways and means to ensure that our students face no problems, especially when it comes to academics,” he added.

Varghese said that the suggestion for “Heads (of departments) being given the responsibility of forming a committee to handle bursaries…will not be required”.

“Heads may recommend the case/s of deserving students and the office of the Bursar will do whatever it takes to ensure that our students enjoy the benefits of an uninterrupted study to help them move on with their studies,” he said.

“This time of the pandemic is certainly not one to indulge in pettifoggery, one-upmanship or try to pull in different directions. The focus must be, will be on the students and they alone will be the centre of our focus,” he added.

On the possibility of distributing laptops, Bursar Renish Abraham had told The Indian Express Thursday, “We used to issue laptops to students while they were on campus, but now since laptops are provided by the university, I don’t think we can send it to their residence… Probably we need to have a policy on this.”

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