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VSSUT on a peaceful protest

The students and teachers of Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology, Burla, a Unitary Technical University run by the state government of Odisha, lately organised a peaceful protest against the autocracy of the Vice-Chancellor of University, Dr. Atal Chaudhari, alleging that ever since his accession to the position of Vice-Chancellor in 2017, there has been no significant progress in infrastructure and academic research work. Concerns were raised, in particular concerning some new academic rules and regulations put into effect and inadequate facilities at the college available for the teachers.

VSSUT, Burla, ever since its establishment in 1956, has had a long history of producing high quality and technically sound engineering professionals. It was, therefore, an accepted fact that Vice-Chancellor Atal Chaudhari had a lot to live up to as the university supremo. He made quite a few tall promises to upgrade multiple facets of the University, be it infrastructural or academic during his transfer from Jadavpur University. However, various claims have been made lately of his failure to live up to them. Considering the conditions of the offices, lavatories and other basic amenities available to the teachers, it is of very little surprise that his performance has been unsatisfactory. Furthermore, from the academic year of 2018-19, new academic regulations have been brought into effect. Repetition of the academic year, or year-back, which earlier used to occur when any student did not pass the supplementary examinations of over five subjects was reduced to three subjects. The new rule has barred a lot of students from appearing for the placement drive.

In disapproval against the new regulations causing conflicts, the teachers and students of VSSUT, Burla had organised a peaceful protest. Teachers made use of the break times between classes to take part in the protest ensuring that current students faced no discontinuation of classes and hence issues on academics. Banners reading “Go Back Atal Chaudhari” were put up and tents were erected as a platform for teachers to sit on strike. The incident caught the attention of media and the event was highlighted in editorials all over the state.

The students of VSSUT later followed the footsteps of the teachers and started conducting their forms of peaceful protest for the administration to meet their agendas.

The students demanded the eradication of the year-back system, and resourceful companies to be invited for the placement drive on the campus. The final and pre-final year students took initiatives to ensure that there were ample food and water supply during the protest and that the strike caused no hamper on the ongoing admission phase in the institute.

The strike lasting for around a week showed the exemplary spirit of unity among the students of VSSUT, and also their sense of integrity even while rebelling. The concerned students and faculties remain to expect that the administration pays heed to the demands and requests, and basic facilities are upgraded to be at par with the reputation of the university which would ensure that a conducive environment sustains to nurture the rich history for years to come and produce brilliant minds.

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Sounmay Mishra

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