A file photo of Delhi's premier St Stephen's college. (Rishi Ballabh/HT photo)
St Stephen’s teachers and alumni criticised a proposal circulated by principal Valson Thampu to amend the college’s 102-year-old constitution by giving the Church of North India a bigger say in its functioning.
“The elected bodies in the college will have no say in admissions or appointments. On top of everything, the principal will be the sole disciplinary actiontaking authority. This attempt by Thampu is aimed at eliminating any kind of democratic set up in the college,” said Nandita Narain, mathematics professor at college.
Historian Ramachandra Guha, who is an alumnus of the college, took to Twitter to express his dismay at the move. “A once great college, open to all of India, all Indians, set to become even more of a Christian ghetto (sic),” he tweeted.
Some teachers said they fear that the amendment, if passed, would destroy the “secular and intellectual” fabric of the college. “This is being done to establish oligarchy of Christians who will run the institution as they like. The new constitution removes the system of checks and balances,” said a senior teacher, who has been a governing body member.
The draft amendment which has been circulated to select college teachers proposes that the principal be empowered to take disciplinary action against students or staff irrespective of the governing body’s (GB) opinion.
A meeting of the GB on November 23 during which the draft was to be tabled was postponed on Friday. “The draft was supposed to be placed before the GB in a meeting scheduled on November 23, but that meeting was postponed,” a college official said.
Principal Thampu, who is retiring in February, said it was the Supreme Council’s decision to amend the constitution and there is no violation of procedures or law in the same.
“Whatever has been proposed is very much within the ambit of the law. I can challenge anyone to find any legal or procedural loophole in the same,” he said.