Despite being one of the few government-funded undergraduate programmes offering quality social sciences education with an interdisciplinary approach, the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Hyderabad, had recently decided to not only cancel the BA. Social Sciences programme without officially providing any reason, but to also make their campus non-residential. The program, being primarily funded by the Government, provided students from marginalised sectors access to a social science programme which has a curriculum highly relevant individuals to gain critical and strategic thinking capability and positively contribute to the benefit of the society. In a Change.org started to generate awareness, the Students Council for TISS Hyderabad, stated that despite all the flaws with TISS Hyderabad, which included lack of proper infrastructure, expensive hostels with poorly cooked food, placement issues and most importantly, being an off-campus, TISS Hyderabad had taught each person to grow as better individuals and to understand intersectionality.

The surprising thing about TISS’s decision to cancel the BA. Social Sciences course and to make remove all hostel facilities, is that the decisions were taken when all students were away on either semester break or fieldwork. Neither the students nor the elected student’s body was informed about this decision before it was taken. The BA Student Collective has also stated that this move came right after a meeting was conducted between the authorities and the members of the Students Council, wherein the safety of the students was guaranteed in the future but nothing was mentioned about the Administrations plans to cancel the BA. Social Science course or remove all hostel facilities.

Presently, TISS Hyderabad does not have a permanent campus and is located on land leased out from the Telangana Panchayat Department. Deputy Director of TISS, Professor Siva Raju informed The News Minute that they have taken the decision to make the campus a non-residential one because the administration wants to create a campus of its own in Hyderabad. However, why was the campus suddenly made non-residential now, despite the TISS Hyderabad not having its permanent campus ready was not explained. Neither was it clarified as to what problem would having a residential campus cause to the ongoing plans of creating a permanent campus.

TISS offers its BA in Social Science course in Hyderabad to only 60 students at this moment. Deputy Director of TISS, Professor Siva Raju, has also claimed to TNM, that this is not a complete cancellation of the entire course as the Administration planned to introduce the course later. When, if ever, the course would be reintroduced, was not clarified. The Students Council of TISS Hyderabad has stated that even deferment of the course would cause a huge impact as a lot of marginalised students with potential will be losing out on their opportunities.

In a public statement, the BA Student Collective informed that the discontent with respect to the decision of the Administration lead to a round of negotiations between the Students Councils and TISS Administrations of Hyderabad and Mumbai Campus. However, the conclusions of these meeting had left the student community unsatisfied and uncertain about our future. This anguish led to the formation of the B.A Student Collective; which comprises of all the existing batches of B.A. in the Hyderabad Campus. The General Body Meetings (GBMs) of BA students called by this collective on Dec 5th and on Dec 8th resulted in the formation of a Student Action Committee (SAC) and a Charter of Demands. The GBM took the decision that as a sign of dissent, all the three B.A batches would go on protest and class boycott on 10th December 2018 onwards. The TISS Hyderabad Masters students had also promised their support for the protests and boycott.

The News Minute had in a report dated 8th December, misreported that the BA students of TISS had threatened to go on a hunger strike on the 10th of December. In a Statement of Clarification dated 9th December, the B.A Students Collective of TISS Hyderabad clarified (statement below) that that was not the truth, as the BA. Students Collective had not issued any statement whatsoever regarding any hunger strike and the council had agreed to boycott classes as a method of protest. Despite the Statement of Clarification stating that the news outlet was informed about its mistake and requested to correct the same, the TNM report, misreporting the nature of the protests, is still available online.

The protests are planned from 9 am onwards in front of the SR Sankaran Block, at the TISS Hyderabad campus. More details on the same are regularly available on the Facebook page TISS For Everyone.

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