Madurai: Educators condemned a circular issued by Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU), Tirunelveli, which requires departments to obtain prior authorization before holding a seminar, conference or workshop and also disclose the event in detail , including content, speaker and target audience. This follows an incident at the university where a guest lecturer was asked to cancel his lecture on âPeriyar and Islamâ due to opposition from a right-wing group. However, at the intervention of the Department of Higher Education, the conference took place.
The circular dated October 28 signed by the registrar (responsible) of the university, Dr R Maruthakutti, ordered all departments to obtain authorization well in advance before any seminars, conferences, workshops are held. , etc. He also said that the note should contain the invitation template, details of the contact person, speaker, target group, date, time and all relevant details and that this practice should be scrupulously. respected.
The controversy started when guest speaker Samuel Asirraj, who was hosting a lecture series on âPeriyar, social justice and enlightenmentâ, was asked by the university to cancel his lecture on âPeriyar and Islamâ after the opposition of the Hindu Munnani. The matter was brought to the attention of the higher education department who brought it up with the university and the conference had to be authorized. Sources said protesters from right-wing groups showed up on the day of the conference on October 27, but were not allowed to enter. Protesters said they would petition the Chancellor on the matter.
Educators and activists linked to Madurai Kamaraj, Manonmaniam Sundaranar, Mother Teresa and Alagappa University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) and Save Higher Education Movement, Tamil Nadu (SHE-TN), spoke out against the circular, calling it oppressive .
âThe university is using this incident as an excuse to suppress academic freedom. He tries to introduce censorship. The shrinking of democratic spaces at the university is of great concern. Such regulation can prevent progressive thinkers and those from minority groups from expressing themselves, âsaid Dr R Murali, secretary of SHE-TN. âIt takes away autonomy. Anyone can be for or against an opinion or a problem. But the university must leave room for debate and not restrict the dissemination of opinion, âdeclared M Nagarajan, secretary general of MUTA.