–Video shows Cheryl Burke shouting at students, giving them a ‘shut up’ call
–Students criticise administration over unjustified fee hike
–University administration deflects questions about chief student affairs officer’s comments
LAHORE: The students of Forman Christian College University (FCCU) took to social media to express displeasure over university’s chief student affairs officer Cheryl Burke’s “rude and offensive” comments during a demonstration held by students to protest the 300 per cent fee hike.
On April 10, the student body collectively staged a protest outside the university’s administrative block after the administration increased the fee of the mandatory internship of the Education Programme by 300 per cent. The call for the protest was given on social media by some students who claimed to have already approached the administration with their woes but had been left unsatisfied by their response.
Following the protest, a short video was released on social media which showed Cheryl shouting at the protesting students. She can be heard saying, “This is not a political rally in downtown Lahore. This is FC College and you must behave like FCCU students.” The video also shows her calling one of the protesting students to come forward and when the students collectively refuse this act of singling out one of the students, she tells them to shut up.
Eyewitnesses, who chose to remain anonymous lest they face any discrimination at the university, also confirmed the incident and said the video had not been doctored with.
The video instantly became viral on social media, drawing criticism from the current and former students of the university besides people from all walks of life. People criticised the university official for not trying to understand the students’ woes and for her “dictatorial attitude”.
One particular student also called out the double standards of the university’s faculty members for not paying heed to the students’ problems while they regularly preach about the ills of capitalism on campus.
A student named Saud Sami told this scribe that the whole issue had blown out of proportion because of the university’s poor management. “Previously, the university charged the fee for three credits for the 12-credit internship but this semester, the administration suddenly decided to increase the fee by 300 per cent,” he said.
“They do not understand that it is incredibly hard for the students to pay such a huge amount on such short notice,” he added.
Another student, on the condition of anonymity, said that while the administration’s decision of increasing the fee is justified, they should have informed the students about it beforehand so that people could actually arrange the money or make changes to their academic roadmap to suit their budget.
The students also signed a petition addressed to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Prime Minister Imran Khan, Punjab’s Ministry of Education and the Lahore High Court (LHC) to take notice of the university’s unjustified fee hike.
Talking to Pakistan Today, FCCU’s Head of Communications and Publications Michelle Jacob denied that there was any particular protest on April 10. “Only a few people gathered. We can hardly term that as a protest,” she said.
Meanwhile, a screenshot of an email allegedly from Cheryl was shared on social media. The email states that the video circulating on social media had been taken out of context and there was more to the truth.
Pakistan Today also tried to contact Cheryl but she refused to comment and said that the communication department would speak on her behalf. Later, FCCU’s Marketing Officer Aneel Ghosh told this scribe the students held a “consultation” with the chief student affairs officer and relayed their concerns to her.
“The university is considering the demands of the students and is working to sort out the issue,” he said.
When asked about Cheryl’s comment in the video, he simply diverted the question.