A protest by students of Azim Premji University in Bengaluru against the shuttle costs has entered its eighth day and is continuing without a resolution.
Students have been protesting against the management of the university for charging a transportation fee of Rs 8,500 per semester for a mere 3 kilometers distance from their hostel to their campus which is located off Sarjapur in Bengaluru.
In a manifesto, these students say that the protest comes out of the thought that everyone must have a chance to study, no matter what their financial constraints are.
“The administration is forcing first year students residing at the KGA (external hostel which is a temporary accommodation while the university hostel is still under construction) to pay for the commute to and from the university (INR 8,500 per semester). This mandate to pay is arbitrary as other existing shuttle services are available for all university members free of cost,” students explained.
Adithi (name changed), a student added, “The stretch from campus to hostel has no electricity. Students must walk to KGA. There have been harassment and molestation cases in the past. Sometimes, despite paying the money, there is no place for students on the shuttle and they are forced to walk. Shuttle services were introduced last year and no student can opt out of it. For the new batch, a mail was sent that shuttle services would be provided at a cost. UGC guidelines say that any kind of fee structure has to be informed 6 months in advance which has not been done in this case.”
Suhas (name changed), another student said that the response to shuttle services was poor in the start. “Last semester, we met with the Registrar to have a discussion in this regard. We were appalled when he said ‘When there is a hike in cylinder prices, we don’t ask you. Many are also getting scholarships’,” said Suhas.
Students said that for students who did not pay, money is being deducted from Students’ acceptance fees and assistantship.
“There is an open space on campus where students are spending the nights in protest. Some have also fallen sick in the process. Registrar sent a note stating that action would be initiated against students continuing to protest,” Suhas said.
The protesting students believe that student safety is the varsity’s responsibility and that students were pressured to pay the shuttle fees only after signing the acceptance letter. They said that there was no mention of the same on the college website oy any document at the time of admission.
The university allegedly has mandated all students to pay the transportation charges, irrespective of whether or not they would be availing the facility.
It may be recollected that students of Azim Premji University had staged a protest in 2022 asking the management to provide safe transport for students after they moved to a new campus. This came after one of the female students who was studying here was harassed on her way to the campus in broad daylight.
When contacted, the official response from the university in this regard read thus: “Azim Premji University has no comments to offer at this point.”
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