Yesterday, I sat out in front of the admin. block at EFLU, with a varying mass of students. It was the first protest I've ever been a part of--if you know me (and why're you reading this if you don't?) you know how absolute an antipathy I feel for anything involving large groups, let alone my usual disdain for all things 'political'.
Of course, this wasn't political, even in the sense of the personal being political. We were protesting the appaling mess conditions, and the scarcity of living space. I'm housed quite comfortably, but there are rooms in Basheer, that are smaller than mine, which house three beds + one desk + two chairs + one cupboard + one rack of shelves. There are bathrooms shared by upwards of fifty boys. Basheer is so terrifyingly claustrophobic that even taking a short-cut through it is daunting. The dizzyingly steep stairs have no railings.
And then there's the food. The university does not subsidise the gas used by the student-run messes, and water is often unavailable. The Basheer Hostel mess feeds something like 850 mouths, and has nowhere near the capacity for it. The Mahlakka Bai Chanda Hostel mess feeds over 350, and is attempting to accomodate another 200. There are people who wait in line for 30-45-60 minutes and are then told there isn't enough food.
The Acting Vice Chancellor ran away at 1:30 on the 12th, after promising to meet the students at 3:00. He is yet to show up, though we have hopes for the 15th. Yesterday went fairly well, actually. Better than I'd expected, at any rate, but I'm used to Calcutta, where student agitations are a staple of college/university life, and phases nobody.
It went fairly well, by my admittedly-low standards, but, good gods, in a Central University that has huge buildings being constructed, that can afford to use marble for the hostel floors... in such a place, to have students sitting in protest in order to demand food?