New Delhi: Pakistani students at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) have been distributing a tongue-in-cheek ‘missing persons’ flyer calling for changes at their university. The university is no stranger to controversy for its policies, salaries and actions.
Titled, “PLEASE HELP FIND! MISSING”, the white and blue flyer names the missing person as LUMS and its “mental condition” being that “it recently started acting like an army brat”.
The flyer further details that the Lahore institution was once a safe space for religious and sexual minorities, a supportive environment for free thought against moral policing, exploitation of university staff as well as an institution that was transparent in its operations.
The flyer continues to be circulated on social media along with the hashtag #InvestigateLUMS, with some users noting that the institution “is really not the LUMS everyone expected it to be”.
A friend forwarded this story. Apparently some students have distributed the flyers everywhere and rightfully so imo as this institute is really not the LUMS everyone expected it to be. #InvestigateLUMS pic.twitter.com/aq5JywqSBj
— Maroof Taj (@LAutreDeMaroof) January 27, 2022
The emergence of the flyer comes nearly two weeks after students at the university called for an investigation into the administration’s policies following the expulsion of a student in his final year for providing tuitions.
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According to a report by Pakistani daily The Friday Times, the administration alleged that the student had been helping others cheat through organised tuition lessons and sharing of notes.
“We strongly condemn the expulsion of another student from LUMS as a disciplinary action in Disciplinary Committee hearing.LUMS is expelling the students without any valid reason & it is highly condemnable. We request the higher authorities to investigate the case. #investigateLUMS,” wrote one user on 12 January.
Meanwhile, other students argued that providing tuition is a go-to for many who come from low-middle income families.
“I taught my way, O/A Level students, through my bachelor’s degree at IBA,” wrote another user.
I taught my way, O/A Level students, through my bachelor's degree at IBA. Most of us, who did so, belong to low-middle income group and this is the only way they can assist parents for such expensive education.
Such action is completely preposterous and condemnable. https://t.co/NcZC9Nfc2u
— Wajid Rizvi (@WajidRizvi) January 12, 2022
‘Disparity’ between V-C and janitor salary
Last month, the university came under fire after it announced students would be charged PKR 18,000 to attend their convocation ceremony. A student pointed out that it was the same amount janitors were paid for the whole month.
LUMS is charging PKR 18,000 to students to attend a one-day event of CONVOCATION.
That's literally what they pay their JANITOR for a MONTH.
How do you sleep at night with such injustices?#InvestigateLUMS #InvestigateAllUniversities
— Maroof Taj (@LAutreDeMaroof) December 29, 2021
The uproar emerged as LUMS and other elite universities came under scrutiny for their high fees despite the pandemic and debilitating economic crisis in Pakistan, which have left many families in the country struggling.
To add to the controversy, LUMS has long been criticised for low wages paid to cleaning and services staff. Last month, the controversy reared its head again after Farooq Tariq, General Secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (PKRC), made claims about the disparity between the salaries of the vice-chancellor and the janitors.
#InvestigateAllUniversities one of most expensive university in Pakistan is LUMS, VC wages over 7 million a month: janitor staff 18,000 a month, not even the minimum wage fixed by govt.
— Farooq Tariq (@FarooqTariq3) December 29, 2021
The issue had also cropped up in 2019 when LUMS students protested along with janitorial staff who wanted to be paid their salaries ahead of the Easter Holiday. After the incident, the staff received their salaries.
Similar protests took place in 2012, when a group of LUMS students, with help from a few instructors, demanded the re-hiring of 16 members of the janitorial staff. The incident unfolded after the university’s entire janitorial staff of 101 people protested for an increase in their minimum wages. After it was announced that wages would be increased, however, 16 janitors were fired.