No quota, only preference to Christian teachers in Stephens

July 17th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Clearing the air about reservation in its academic faculty, especially after criticism in the media, the Supreme Council of the St. Stephens college Thursday said the college gives preference to Christian candidates but doesn’t have a faculty quota per se. Sunil J. Matthews, advocate, speaking on behalf of the Supreme Council, categorically denied that there is any reservation for Christian candidates in the college’s faculty.

The announcement comes after a furore between the teaching faculty of the college and acting head M.S. Frank, on the appointment of two Christian candidates, a gold-medallist and an old Stephanian, as ad hoc teachers in the history department.

“There has been a misunderstanding between the faculty and Dr. Frank regarding the appointment of two teachers in the history department. The Supreme Council, which has taken on the role of a peacemaker, met both the parties yesterday (Wednesday) and asked them to sort out the problem between themselves,” Matthew told reporters at the Churches of North India Bhavan.

He said the Supreme Council, the custodian of the religious character of the institution, doesn’t interfere in the appointment of teachers in the college.

“Considering that St. Stephens is a minority institution, just five of the 70 teachers being Christians is not done. We don’t want to comment on what Dr. Frank’s intentions were by which he filled up both the vacancies in the history department with Christian candidates, but the Supreme Council’s stand is clear - there is no reservation.

“Of course, we give preference to Christian candidates. If there are two applicants with equal minimum qualification and one is a Christian while the other is not, preference will be given to the former. But in no way will the standard of education in the college be compensated with,” Matthew told IANS after the press conference.

He added that whether the appointments will be withdrawn again depends on Frank and the faculty members.

He said all the heads of departments of the college reasserted their support to the Supreme Council to safeguard the religious character of the college, adding the furore started when the faculty’s opinion of appointing one non-Christian candidate in the two vacancies of the history department was not met with.

“It was for the first time probably that the teachers boycotted the lunch at the orientation programme for new students - a tradition - in the college’s history. A lot of speculation in the media over a misunderstanding has catapulted the whole affair into something nasty.

“The Supreme Council has given both the parties three days to sort out the problems. If there is no concrete solution, then we will have to intervene as the peacemaker again,” Matthew said.

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