LAHORE: A private university has initiated disciplinary action against 36 current and former students for allegedly posting defamatory memes of teachers on their personal as well as the university Facebook accounts and othergroups.
FAST National University (NU) of Computer and Emerging Science Faisal Town Campus took action against 24 current and 12 former students for posting the allegedly objectionable memes online.
A FAST Disciplinary Committee notification, available with Dawn, revealed that 13 students were directed to submit an apology to the campus administration and also post it to their personal Facebook timelines within 10 days from June 27. Two other students were expelled for the Fall 2020 semester, their one grade reduced in all courses registered in the Spring 2020 semester, and directed to do one-hour daily community service for four weeks by cleaning the campus lawn and highway after reopening; one student was expelled for a year and told to do one-hour daily community service for six weeks by cleaning the campus lawns and highway after opening.
Three other students were punished with one-grade reduction in all courses of the Spring 2020 semester, four students with one-grade reduction in various courses and another directed to submit a written explanation to the Central Academic Office and his result for Spring semester would be withheld till further orders.
Some students expelled for a semester, one for a year, others asked to apologise
Twelve former students were also directed to submit a written apology to the administration and also upload it to their personal Facebook timelines within 10 days. “Failure to comply with the orders will render the respondent liable for cancellation of degree with intimation to HEC, blacklisting and reporting to authorities for trail under cyber bullying and harassment laws.”
However, students – both punished and others -- expressed outrage over the varsity’s decision on social media. Shah Murad, a student, posted on Facebook: “Dictatorship at its best.” He noted that there were countless problems to solve amidst this pandemic but FAST was worried about humorous memes and was taking this sort of decision to prove that it could not tolerate criticism.
Former student and journalist, Ali Moeen Nawazish, posted on his Facebook and twitter accounts in solidarity: “FAST University, this is shameful! Universities are supposed to be beacons of free speech and thought… What is wrong with FAST! Don’t reduce their grades! This is wrong on so many levels! You are toying with their futures to soothe your egos! You should be ashamed!”
FAST University Academics Manager Saifullah told Dawn that the students started this as a joke but later created obscene and objectionable memes over which they had taken disciplinary action against them.
He said a seven-member committee was constituted to probe into the issue that had called all the students individually and some had recorded statements over the phone. The students had two chances to challenge the disciplinary committee orders within 14 days -- before the university director and later before the Board of Governors chairman.
He said 12 students had apologised for their action and were given relief.
“The administration has not expelled any student, but rusticated some for one year and others for a semester,” he claimed.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020