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St Stephen’s college ‘suspends’ over 100 students for not attending morning assembly

First Published: 20th February, 2024 13:02 IST

The students and teachers have written to Principal John Varghese, urging him to immediately withdraw the order of suspension of students from college

St Stephen’s College has allegedly suspended around 100 first-year students “for not attending morning assembly,” a teacher claimed on Tuesday.
The college has also threatened to debar the students if they do not call their parents.

The students and teachers have written to Principal John Varghese, urging him to immediately withdraw the order of suspension of students from college and also withdraw the threat to debar them from appearing in the examinations.
There was no immediate response from the administration.
Over 100 first-year students of St Stephen’s College received the email on February 17, where they were informed that they had been suspended and would be debarred from giving the second-semester examination.
The reason cited was a failure to set up an appointment with the principal in response to the email sent on February 4, wherein these first-year students were asked to do the same due to low attendance in the morning assemblies in January 2024.
“Regrettably, due to non-compliance with this request, I inform you that the student will not be permitted to sit for the upcoming examinations as a consequence of suspension,” the administration’s mail read.
Talking to ANI over the phone, a teacher at the college expressed concern over the students missing classes.
“Due to low attendance in the morning assembly, the students are not allowed to attend the classes. They are missing classes. Many teachers are concerned over the action,” he said, on the condition of anonymity.
“Many of my students have come to me to tell me that they are living alone. They have no guardian here either. But they are still being asked to call their parents. Their parents cannot come on such short notice,” the teacher mentioned.
In a collective reply to the principal’s mail, the students mentioned the prospect of setting an appointment wasn’t feasible since their parents do not live in Delhi, NCR, and, hence, it wasn’t possible for them to travel all the way to Delhi “at short notice due to prior commitments, scheduling issues, and financial issues.”
Associate Professor Sanjeev Grewal also wrote to the principal, expressing shock at the development and said that the shortage of attendance in the morning college assembly is not a ground for debarring students from appearing in the examinations.
He also pointed out that the morning assembly is a convention specific to St Stephen’s College and is not recognized by the university.
“Making assembly attendance compulsory may indeed be violative of the fundamental rights of students under Articles 25 and 28(3) of the Constitution and hence illegal. College assembly has always involved religious prayers and reading from the religious scriptures,” he added.
In the letter, he also requested the administration to immediately withdraw the order of suspension of students from college and also withdraw the threat to debar them from appearing in the examinations for the shortage of attendance in the morning assembly.
“I also request that attendance in the morning assembly and religious instruction should be made completely voluntary, as per the fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution. Lastly, I also request that penal disciplinary action against a college community member should be taken only as a matter of last resort,” he added. (ANI)

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