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Assam University Convocation notification sparks a huge row – Students community unitedly stands against the notification

On November 24, 2020, Assam University administration published a notification stating that the 18th Convocation, which was earlier scheduled to be held on March 1, will now be held on December 24. The notification further stated the only D.Sc & PhD and Gold Medalists of different courses will be allowed to attend the convocation ceremony while the rest of the students will have to attend the ceremony online.

This decision by the varsity administration has created a cloud of disappointment and despair over the students’ community of Assam University. Speaking on the issue, Biswarup Bhattacharjee, Former Students’ Union President, said, “Such a decision is grossly discriminatory and patently dubious in nature “. Responding to whether the Students’ Union was taken into fold before publishing such a notification, he further said, “I was called to attend a meeting on 19th of November regarding the convocation. I stated in unequivocal terms that all the students must be allowed to attend the convocation. When the Vice Chancellor stated the limitations imposed by COVID protocols, I requested the Administration to refund the money of all the students if they can’t allow them to attend the convocation.”

Raising doubts over the hidden motive behind the notification, Bhattacharjee further said, “Why was the AUSU dissolved just one day prior to the publication of the notification? What about millions of money garnered by the Administration under the garb of collecting Convocation fees? Why should any student pay Rs 1500 if he/she cannot even attend the convocation Where is all the money going? Where is the accountability of such a huge sum of money?”

When asked about the future course of the students community regarding the convocation, Bhattacharjee stated , “Either the Administration has to allow all the students to attend the convocation or they have to refund the fees taken from them. If they refuse to cater to our demand, we will resort to democratic protest against such a decision. They may have dissolved the Union but the Students’ Unity is still very much alive. I hope the Administration hasn’t forgotten it.”

Speaking on the issue, Monosijo Bhattacharjee, a prospective Gold Medalist of the upcoming convocation , expressed his despair. “The notification portrays a classic Orwellian stance -All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. The University administration was ready to conduct offline examinations when the COVID curve was at its absolute peak. It is truly unfathomable as to why ‘restrictions’ have been made synonymous with ‘convenience’. While political rallies, festivities, processions, markets, etc have been given unbridled liberty, I am sure a convocation with physical distancing protocols, masks, sanitisation, etc won’t hurt us much. Students will surely cooperate with the Administration and adhere to the necessary protocols. Convocation has certain symbolisms which students like to treasure for their entire lives – the wearing of the black gown, tossing of hats, walking down the aisle for one’s hard earned certificates, a final rendezvous with our beloved friends. A convocation is much more than a lifeless official formality. I hope the University administration reconsiders it’s decision.”

Speaking to a a prospective PhD awardee of the upcoming convocation, Rupam Chakroborty, a research scholar of the Department of Chemistry, said, “If only the Gold Medalists and the PhD holders get invited, it is surely not going to be a inclusive convocation. Convocation is for one and all. University administration needs to take into account the grievances of the students community regarding this.”

Among the various representations on behalf of of the Students’ Community, a memorandum was submitted to the Vice Chancellor by the Barak Brahmaputra Forum demanding reconsideration of the decision. Pallab Dey, President of Barak Brahmaputra Forum, said, “The university administration must refund all the convocation fees of the students who will not be allowed to attend the convocation. Why must students pay for the cost of gowns, food, etc when they can’t even attend the convocation?”

It remains to be seen what the University administration finally decides on the conducting of the convocation . What is clear is that the students community, by and large, stands much aggrieved with the recent notification.

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