The management of St. Thomas College in Pala took decisive action to prevent the politicisation of the college youth festival by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI). Despite the allocation of names for various festival venues by college authorities, the SFI attempted to impose their own names, including references to contentious political issues such as Babri, Palestine, and Manipur.
The SFI’s actions were perceived as an attempt to vilify Hindutva organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the swift response from college authorities thwarted their efforts, with Principal Prof. James John condemning the SFI’s actions and affirming a zero-tolerance policy towards politicisation within the college campus.
Upon learning of this deviation from the assigned names, the college administration promptly removed the unauthorized names. Principal Prof. James John condemned the SFI’s actions, stating that the attempt to inject party politics into an arts festival would not be tolerated on the college campus. He emphasized that the college environment should remain free from such partisan influences, and any protests related to the incident would not be permitted within the campus premises.
St. Thomas College, Pala, is a government-aided private institution of higher education situated in Pala town, Kerala, India. Founded in 1950 by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Pala, the college is affiliated with Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. It achieved re-accreditation with an A++ grade from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in February 2021.
This incident highlights the college’s commitment to maintaining an apolitical and inclusive atmosphere conducive to academic pursuits. The administration’s proactive stance underscores the importance of upholding academic integrity and preventing the infusion of party politics into educational institutions.
The SFI’s attempt to rename festival venues is reflective of a larger trend of high-handedness in Kerala campuses, particularly when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) is in power. The SFI, known for its anarchical behavior, recently protested against the State Governor. Past instances include the symbolic creation of a grave for retiring Principal Prof. N. Sarasu at Victoria College, Palakkad, and the burning of the official chair of a lady principal at Maharaja’s College, Kochi, by SFI members.
In campuses where the SFI holds sway, they often curtail the presence and activities of other student organizations. In certain colleges dominated by the SFI, rival student groups face obstacles even in filing nomination papers for college union elections. This incident at St. Thomas College exemplifies the need to uphold the sanctity of academic spaces, fostering an environment free from undue political influences.