Thampu pulls up St Stephen's teachers for speaking to media

St Stephen's Principal Valson Thampu has called for giving a major say to Church of North India in the functioning of the college.

New Delhi: Amidst a controversy sparked by his proposal for amending the St Stephen's constitution, its principal Valson Thampu on Saturday disapproved of the move by its faculty members to speak to the media on the issue and urged them to exercise "responsible restraint".

"At a recent Staff Council meeting, concerns were expressed by everyone present about the tendency to drag college matters through the media muck, aimed at discrediting the institution in the eye of the public. It was decided unanimously that all faculty members shall refrain such irresponsible indulgences.

"I am disappointed to note that this has been violated. I would urge my colleagues to exercise responsible restraint in such situations and explore avenues of dialogue rather than of confrontation," he said in an email sent to the college faculty.

Thampu, who is retiring in February next year, has circulated a draft amendment in which he has proposed that the principal be empowered to take disciplinary action against students or staff irrespective of the Stephen's Governing Body (GB)'s opinion.

He has also called for giving a major say to Church of North India in the functioning of the college, handing over of faculty appointments and admissions to the Supreme Council and amending the composition of the GB.

The Stephen's staff association had in a November 23 meeting briefly attended by Thampu outrightly rejected the amendment draft.

"If teachers abandon the bottomline commitment to intellectual and moral responsibility, they will only discredit themselves and the cause over which they are made to look agitated.

"Confrontation solves nothing. To give out to the public the impression that the 'teachers of the college' have 'rejected' the amendments even before they are considered by the GB has problems (sic)," Thampu further said.

While the staff association includes both ad hoc and permanent faculty, in a separate petition to the GB, 37 confirmed faculty members have urged that taking up of the amendment process be deferred till Thampu retires. They have also called for the legal and procedural ramifications involved in the amendments to be studied carefully.

The GB is scheduled to meet on November 30 to take a call on the issue.

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