Cotton merger impasse continues; students, Govt at loggerheads
The students of Cotton College took out a rally from the administrative block of the college protesting against its merger with the Cotton College State University (CCSU). The merger move had also been declared by the state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during the budget session of the Assam Assembly.
The students took out the procession from the college to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (M) to register their protest against the merging of the century old college with the university. Such opposition was registered earlier as well by the students on the grounds that the merging of the college with the university will result in the college losing its dignity and heritage. The students also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal.
In the memorandum, the students demanded that the state government should hold an open discussion involving all the stakeholders, including past and present students, teachers, employees of the college, and intellectuals of the state within the next three days to discuss the contentious issue of the merger of the college with the CCSU. They warned that in case the state government fails to hold such an open discussion within the above time frame, the students of the college would intensify their agitation against the proposed merger of the college with the CCSU.
Speaking to G Plus, General Secretary of Cotton College Union Society, Jintu Thakuria said that the students will never accept the move as the college has a long historical background which will be rendered invalid once it becomes a university. “The college should remain as a constituent body of the Cotton College State University but it cannot be converted into a full-fledged university. It will hamper the students and as every student has a craving to study in Cotton College this move would bring a sudden death of the British era college,” said Thakuria.
He said that the dignity of the college will be lost and the higher secondary students will be affected the most. “This year NAAC has assessed it as the best college and has also offered to introduce the Commerce stream and the PG courses. If it becomes a university, these courses will not be of any use. The number of students will also lessen with the formation of the university as students will opt mainly for Gauhati University rather than the Cotton University,” said Thakuria.
Meanwhile, education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while commenting on the merger of the college with the university, said that he respects the democratic protest and that any kind of promotion will not harm the prestige of the college. He said that up-gradation of a college means it has developed and not degraded and that the government has taken the decision for the benefit of the students. The decision has been taken based on the advice of the special committee formed to merge the college and the university.
However, president of CCUS, Surajit Dutta, in a press conference said that the decision was taken without the consent of the former and present students and the first step seems to be limiting Cotton College to just the higher secondary level and slowly abolishing it thereafter. The decision will deprive the poor and will hamper the quality education that is being dispensed to the students from across the northeast.
“Such a decision will hit the tradition, sentiments and intellectual pursuits in the state. We, therefore, appeal to the government not to take any decision without taking the opinion of the present and former students of the college, the academicians and intellectuals of the state into confidence,” said Dutta.
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