Won’t interfere in varsity functioning, faculty freedom: Ashoka Trustees

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By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 24, 2021 5:11:20 am

Apart from reaffirming their commitment to the varsity’s policy for the freedom of expression, the board also announced measures, including a meeting between the student body and the governing body twice a year.

The board of Trustees of Ashoka University wrote to the students on Tuesday, assuring that they will not interfere in the academic functioning of the university and that the faculty’s freedom to write and speak in their chosen fora and on their chosen themes will be protected.

The statement, signed by Trustees Ashish Dhawan, Vineet Gupta, Sanjeev Bhikchandani and Pramath Raj Sinha came on the second day of the student strike. The “student government” at Ashoka University had called for a two-day boycott of classes starting Monday, to protest the resignation of their teachers, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian. In a statement, the elected student body had said that the two professors’ controversial exit had eroded their trust in the university administration to protect students from “external pressures”.

Mehta had resigned saying the founders made it “abundantly clear” that his association with the institution was a “political liability”. Calling the exit “ominously disturbing” for academic freedom, Mehta’s colleague and former Chief Economic Advisor in the Modi government Arvind Subramanian sent in his resignation two days later.

Apart from reaffirming their commitment to the varsity’s policy for the freedom of expression, the board also announced measures, including a meeting between the student body and the governing body twice a year.

It also announced an annual town hall with the founders “where the students can interact with them freely”. They also said an email-based feedback process for students will be set for communicating their suggestions and concerns.

“Our aim is that through this and already existing processes we will be able to ensure that Ashoka lives up to its vision of being a space for free enquiry, free expression, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of all human beings and openness to constructive change. All this cannot, of course, be achieved overnight. Ashoka will always be a work in progress,” the statement said. “We seek to work together with students, staff and faculty to make Ashoka not only one of the world’s best universities but also an institution that makes a difference to the world.

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