Education & Literature

    'JNU has problem of freeloaders', says V-C Santishree Pandit; cites overstaying students, illegal guests

    The Hawk
    April21/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit addresses the issue of freeloaders, tightening regulations to curb overstaying students and illegal guests on campus, amidst controversies and resistance.

    JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit

    New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has a problem of "freeloaders" -- both overstaying students and illegal guests -- and the administration is now tightening the noose on them, according to its Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit.

    In an interaction with PTI editors at the agency's headquarters, Pandit said she has issued strict instructions to the hostel administration not to allow any student to stay in hostels beyond five years.

    In response to a question on allegations of JNU having seen freeloaders stay on campus at the cost of taxpayer money, Pandit said, "You are absolutely right, we have a problem of freeloaders."

    Herself an alumna of the university, the 61-year-old said the issue was there even when she was a student but it has increased now.

    "When I was there, we had many students who stayed over but the number of such students was very low... JNU creates certain illusions too... certain students... want everything free and subsidised... even the Lok Sabha canteen is costlier than the JNU canteen but in our times, teachers were very strict," she said.

    "The professor supervising my research told me if you don't complete it in four-and-a-half years, you are out. I knew he wouldn't sign my fellowship extension... I think this has changed over the years. Certain professors permitted such extensions and that's how the number has gone up today," Pandit said.

    Pandit pursued her MPhil and PhD from JNU from 1985-1990 after finishing her master's degree from Presidency College in Chennai.

    "There are also people on campus who are illegal guests, who are not even students of JNU but come here and stay. They are either preparing for UPSC or other exams... for them, JNU is the cheapest place to stay... in southwest Delhi, where can you get such an accommodation with greenery, spread over 2,000 acres and with such dhabas and cheap food," she asked.

    On the steps being taken by her administration to address the issue, Pandit said, "Now we are trying to bring this down to a large extent... it is very difficult for us to get into the rooms... we still do it while sticking to the norms. We also appeal to the good sense of the students and ask them to at least inform if they are bringing a guest."

    "We have also tightened the hostel administration to not allow any student to stay beyond five years. We are now making ID cards compulsory... we tell students to carry ID cards at all times and produce them when asked for. We are asking students to report as well since there are students who don't like these outsiders," she added.

    JNU had in 2019 issued a list of pending mess dues from hostel residents amounting to over Rs 2.79 crore, creating an uproar from various quarters. The students' union had then termed the move as an attempt to threaten students.

    The university also saw massive protests in 2019 when it introduced a fee hike.

    The allegations of 'freeloaders' on the campus were also raised after the 2016 sedition controversy over 'anti-national' slogans raised at the university that led to the arrest of the then-students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar, along with others.

    Several online petitions were then started to stop funding JNU with taxpayers' money.

    The administration's attempts to push for CCTVs on campus and make carrying IDs compulsory have been met with resistance from the students' union, which has been accusing the university brass of converting the campus into a 'jail'.