DU students protest for hostel rooms

A section of the Delhi University Students’ Union protested outside the Vice Chancellor’s office to demand more hostels, especially in off-campus colleges.

Students who have come from other states complain that they pay exorbitant rent to paying guests.

Over 20 students wearing black tikas and black bands on their foreheads and wrists rattled the gate of the VC’s office premises. Police and university guards, who were already on alert, tried hard to keep them off from scaling the fence.

“We are not going until they allow us to meet the VC,” said Karishma Thakur, general secretary of the students’ union. She said her two letters to VC Dinesh Singh demanding new hostels went unanswered.

Students equipped with mobile phone cameras ensured that both police and protesting students maintain civility and restraint despite occasional ugly spats.
One student was reportedly detained.

“I think the protest is important to make them aware about our problems, but I don’t agree with the violence here,” said Pragya Mishra, an Honours student of Hansraj College.

Mishra said she is from Kanpur and pays Rs 15,000 in her PG at Kamla Nagar, a students’ hub near DU North Campus. “Our annual fee at the university is barely Rs 10,000 but I end up paying so much as rent,” she said.

“None of the South Campus colleges have hostels,” said Thakur, naming several colleges in a flourish. “More than ten thousand students are staying in PGs or rented flats in North Campus,” she said.

The university has already constituted a committee, said Gulshan Sawhney, deputy dean of students’ welfare.

“We are planning to increase the capacity of existing hostels. Where there are single beds, we will add another bed. Where there is double occupancy, we will make a room for third,” he said.

“The main problem what they are insisting is the lack of hostel facilities in off-campus colleges. It is the prerogative of colleges. The Vice Chancellor has written to the colleges and has extended all possible help.”

Thakur said the university has unused land in neighbouring areas where hostels can be built.

“Hostels can’t be built overnight. It takes at least two years. We have recently built a girls’ hostel in Dhaka, which has a capacity of 1,500 students,” said Sawhney.  
Maharaja Agrasen College in east Delhi added a hostel a year after it shifted to a new campus in 2011.

There has been a surge in the number of outstation students, say college authorities.

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