'Need to defend universities as free spaces'

Need to defend universities as free spaces
The freedom of our Universities has been challenged by "narrow considerations" and there is need to defend them as "free spaces" and as sources of renewal of liberal values, Vice President M Hamid Ansari said today.
"In a period of rampant distrust of matters intellectual there is an imperative need to defend the universities as free spaces, as independent, critical repositories of knowledge, and as sources of renewal of liberal values that provide avenues of social mobility and equality to people," Ansari said.

Delivering the 66th convocation address at the Panjab University here, the Vice President said that recent events in our country have shown that "there is much confusion about what a university should or should not be".
The freedom of our universities has been challenged by "narrow considerations of what is perceived to be public good", Ansari said.

The rights to dissent and agitation are ingrained in the fundamental rights under our Constitution, which sets out a plural framework and refuses any scope to define the country in narrow sectarian, ideological or religious terms, he said.

"Except in cases of illegal conduct or violence, a University should never seek to silence or influence faculty members or students to adopt or renounce any particular position.
"Indeed, universities should take all legal action necessary to defend their academic integrity and freedom," he emphasised.
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