Students of Azim Premji University have started a petition against their college administration expressing complete disagreement and shock over the university’s decision to impose a one-year suspension on one of their non-binary classmates – Max.
Max was enrolled in the masters’ first year development studies program of the university.
According to the petition, the university administration came up with the decision without probing the matter. The petition states that the administration officials, across both semesters of the academic year 2021-22, failed to provide an environment of positive mental health conditions.
The university administration has accused Max of an “expression of alleged disruptive and monopolizing opinions in classes”; “Alleged negative impact on the learning environment of the peer group”; “Alleged hostility towards teaching and non-teaching staff”; and “Refusal to continue with the medical treatment advised by medical professionals”.
The petition states that Max had experienced the above allegations “on various different levels while seeking support from the administration, the faculty, medical facilities, and the peer group.”
The petition further states that the university’s claim of providing support to deal with mental health challenges for the past year is false.
Max had pointed this out in his email to MA Development school director, Richa Govil, by stating, “The Counseling Center and I have had no engagement at all prior to myself seeking support on date, May 2, 2022.”
The petition states that the university failed to provide Max with emotional support and limited “academic adjustments”.
The university follows a policy of granting 100% aid to those with less than 2 lakhs in their bank accounts and no primary or secondary monetary support.
In his email, Max wrote, “Since I qualified for 100% aid in accordance with the policy, I had sought a 100% tuition waiver and if possible food coupons.”
The aid provided by the university as of now is a 50% waiver of the tuition fee. The petition points out that students who received 100% aid satisfied the gender binary, and Max’s case was not treated as the same.
“Moreover, there had been several instances where Max’s own experience of transphobia has been dismissed, denouncing Max of his gender identity and experienced discrimination by correlating their distress to their mental health conditions. Hence, we view this whole issue as a case of gender discrimination rather than an act of benevolence by the university,” the petition stated.
If you want to help Max, you can sign the petition here.