Why Women Ad Hocs Feel Coerced and Anxious at Delhi University

Namrata’s* smile is aglow as she appears on the phone screen. She has worked as an ad hoc for almost a decade before finally shifting to the United States. She has again embraced the life of a research scholar and a student. With a stipend that allows her to conveniently manage expenses, she feels it was a decision worth taking to bid farewell to her job as an ad hoc in Delhi University where prospects were bleak and harassment rampant.

“I remember my time at IP College for Women. The principal had passed an order – teachers had to be in class on time, I mean the exact time at which the lecture started and they had to end a lecture not before time. So for two consecutive classes, I literally ran through the recently renovated slippery corridors. I have fallen there so many times,” she says with humour.

With this sudden recollection, her expression changes, “It was not a joke. It was a serious mechanism for harassing and intimidating the ad hocs”.

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The contractual appointment of ad hocs is for a period of four months after which they are reappointed after a statutory break.

"“The fact that the ad hocs have to undergo reappointments every four months pressures them into subservience in order to maintain cordial relations with the senior permanent faculty that holds a key to their next appointment.”" - Sanjana*, an ad hoc since seven years

“We are too scared to say ‘No’ for the fear of losing our jobs. In our college, a blatant way of discrimination was how they allotted exam duties. A permanent would get five exam duties a semester. They finish their duties by 12 May. But ad hocs were given something like 12 or more exam duties. These are three-hour-long duties, and we are all assistant professors. This happens officially because there is nobody to check it,” she adds.

She says that if you displease somebody, then your job prospects are affected.

"“More work will be piled on if you resist something, then if you can’t do it, you are called incompetent. Departmental politics emerges because there is no transparency.”"

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She continues to talk about the relationship of ad hocs with permanent faculty.

"“The idea of seniority and permanence gives the permanent teachers legitimacy to ask you to do things. And if you say ‘No’, it is considered a form of insult. And they are the people who recruit you, so you can’t say no. It is more institutionalised, that events and other things will be done by the ad hocs apparently because they are younger. Work load isn’t shared equally. The other thing is that if you keep somebody around for a long while, you become accountable for them. Then you can’t just chuck them out anytime. Certain colleges don’t want that.”"

The ad hoc faculty are by design beneficiaries of less benefits than permanent faculty. These include medical benefits, travel allowances, childcare leaves, pensions and so on.

“It creates multiple problems at multiple levels. At a personal level, we don’t have the stability and the security of a work environment which allows you to teach better and work better because you are not under that external pressure. You are working under a semi-private setup without the perks of it. Even in corporate setups, you receive benefits and performance-based incentives,” adds Sanjana.

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What About DUTA?

Upon the effectiveness of teachers union DUTA, opinions vary. Though the association has stepped in and taken up the case of ad hocs and their woes, it is disheartening that their representation is only through permanent faculty who hold positions in DUTA. Sanjana feels that the hunger strike was “politically well-timed”, and yet, it does not give much hope since nothing moves the establishment “unless it’s a poll issue”.

Namrata is more concerned when it comes to the absence of a separate union of ad hocs in DU.

"“I wouldn’t say I’m happy with how DUTA functions when it comes to the issues of ad hocs. Their primary concern is the permanent faculty and problems faced by them. It’s only when they have to fight for those that the ad hocs’ woes are presented as a side dish.”"

Always under the scanner and living in constant anxiety because there is no job security unless you are submissive and succumb to the whims of your seniors, these ad hocs feel coerced into doing chores like bringing coffee for their seniors, managing events, and even listening to light-hearted jibes.

“This works in a more veiled manner. It takes place under the facade of friendship, of camaraderie. A senior teacher will smile his way and get his job done by us. We will have no option but to fake a smile and acquiesce,” reports another ad hoc.

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(Names have been changed)

(This is the last in the three-part series on everyday struggles of women ad hocs in Delhi University. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.)

(The authors are students of journalism at IIMC, New Delhi. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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