Students of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College staged a protest against what they are referring to as the administration’s “autocratic” decision to apply for autonomy. The students alleged that the college had not taken the opinions of the students, teachers and non-teaching staff into consideration.

A petition, filed by the protesting students, faculty and non-teaching staff, said the decision to change the “character of the college” needed “examination and legitimate consultation”. The petition, a copy of which is with, urged the college to reverse its decision and halt any process initiated in the matter till a consensus is arrived at.

Stating that the “urgency with which the decision was made” raised doubts, the petition demanded that a staff council meeting be held within a week to discuss and vote on the matter.

Students staged their demonstration within the premises, in an area called Andrew’s Court, which was declared out of bounds for students a few years ago by former principal Reverend Valson Thampu, a Facebook post by college alumni Akash Bhattacharya said. “Colleges belong to students, teachers and non-teaching staff. Education cannot be a dictatorship of the administrators,” Bhattacharya wrote.

On February 27, an unidentified member of the college’s governing body told PTI that the administration had decided to seek autonomous status for the college in-principle. The college’s application follows Delhi University’s setting up of a panel to address pleas from colleges seeking autonomy or university status.

In the annual budget, the Centre had announced initiatives to increase autonomy among educational institutions across the country, PTI reported.

Colleges including SRCC, St Stephen’s, Ramjas, Hansraj and those under the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee umbrella had applied for increased autonomy, the news agency reported. Students and teachers associated with the Delhi University Teachers Association protested against the colleges’ decision while demanding that they be involved in the process before a final decision in the matter.