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Father Felix Raj

Politicians have no place on campuses: Father Felix Raj, VC, St Xavier’s University

September 26, 2023
Mita Mukherjee

Politicians have no place on campuses and students should not be involved in active politics in colleges and universities, Father Felix Raj, vice-chancellor of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata said.

By indulging students into politics, political leaders use the youth force for their own needs instead of guiding them to become good leaders in future. Students must understand this and also realize that by entering into “party politics” while studying they would not do justice to both – academics and politics.

“Politicians should stay away from campuses… they have no place on campuses….Seasoned politicians sometimes tend to influence young students… They use them for their own needs…. Students too must understand that they can always join politics…. but after completing their studies….It is not the right stage to get involved in politics when they are in college or university… one cannot put one leg on politics and the other on college..” the vice-chancellor said.

The founder vice-chancellor of the university which is run by Jesuits told EducationWorld that at S.t Xavier’s, students analyse, criticize state and Central policies and debate on various political issues on a regular basis, but direct interference of political leaders is never allowed. This is a system which is practiced at St. Xavier’s and at every Jesuit institution.

The vice-chancellor had recently expressed his opinion on why active politics should not be allowed on campuses in an interview with a private organization David & Goliath on YouTube.

Later, explaining his views on the topic to EducationWorld, Father Felix Raj said: “We need good leaders in our country and all over the world. By saying good leaders I mean leaders whose values will influence us, leaders who are people-oriented, leaders whom we can follow…. Unfortunately we lack such leaders…. Universities and colleges must prepare these good leaders…. This is what the mission of the universities and colleges is and that’s our main purpose…. So we want to make every Jesuit institution a transformative institution.”

The veteran educationist regretted that we often say that “ We don’t like politicians… because they are corrupt.. But I must say all politicians are not corrupt…. We can change this mindset of people if all institutions of higher education can produce good leaders whose values can influence us and we can respect them.”

The observation of Father Felix Raj is significant because active involvement of political parties in universities and colleges are common in West Bengal and incidents of campus violence are reported from many institutions during student polls because of interference of political leaders from outside.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on several occasions advised the state higher education department to introduce the St. Xavier’s model to keep the state-aided universities and colleges free from mainstream politics.

The St. Xavier’s University vice-chancellor, however, said that for every student, irrespective of what they would want to achieve in life, discipline is the key to success, and this approach is given importance at St. Xavier’s and all Jesuit institutions.

“By the time students reach college life, they learn something which may not be helpful in life. They must unlearn these things. They need to make some changes in lifestyle to be disciplined,” he said.

Also read: The Difference Between “Politics of Education” and “Politics of Prison,” Open letter by Manish Sisodia

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