A section of students on Thursday said the Delhi University’s decision to resume offline academic activities from February 17 was a hurried one and that students should have been given more time to make their travel plans to the national capital.
Delhi University professor Rakesh Pandey has started an online petition to vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh urging him to ensure that the switch from online to offline mode is done after the festival of Holi.
In a statement, he said students and parents have started making panic calls to their teachers expressing their problems and difficulties in meeting all the requirements to attend offline teaching in such a short time.
“With landlords trying to cash in on their panic, the solutions are not as easy as they might appear to be. A signature campaign was started to know the problems, their dimensions and their possible solutions to which thousands of students responded positively within a few hours and the numbers are still growing,” he said.
Pandey, who teaches Physics at the Kirori Mal College, said college authorities and teachers should be allowed to exercise some liberty in enforcing the offline teaching initially but should be asked to ensure a complete switch over to offline after the Holi festival, that is from March 21, 2022.
He also suggested that colleges should be asked to complete their hostel admissions, wherever applicable, as early as possible within two weeks. “First-year students should be asked to get prepared for this switch over from their second semester. No attendance requirements should be enforced on the students in their coming semester examinations,” he said. Another online petition to the Delhi University vice-chancellor said that students will have to find accommodation within a span of three-four days. It also said that final year students should be given the option to complete the remainder of their semester virtually.
“Owing to the reopening of Delhi University on such short notice, several outstation students are very worried about travelling to Delhi. There are several graduate and postgraduate students like me who’re in the final year of their studies at DU,” it read. The order to resume offline classes came on February 9.
“It ‘advises’ students to plan to reach Delhi in such a manner, that they can complete the mandatory isolation period of three days before reporting for their college lectures starting February 17. This gives outstation students just three-four days, during which they have to book their travel tickets and find accommodation within their budget, as most students had vacated their PGs and rented flats,” read the petition. Outstation students who’re in their final year should have the option to continue the remainder of their studies, of just two months more, virtually, it said. The Students’ Federation of India, one of the outfits that protested to demand resumption of offline classes, said it is evident that “no application of mind” was carried out by the officials regarding the regionally diverse student population of DU, nor has there been any thought into how to accommodate their concerns. The students who are in their first semester of UG and PG would be adversely affected by the current notification, they said. “There is no clarity regarding the nature of their exams in the February 9 notification. The email sent by the university two days prior to the reopening notification does hint towards the fact the exams might be in online, open-book mode. However, the absence of any mention of an online OBE for first-year students in the February 9 notification has created stress and concern,” they said.
While the campuses must be open for university students from all years, the attendance of first semester students for this semester must not be made compulsory, they said.
“Moreover, the DU administration should immediately announce that online OBE would be implemented for first-year students and end the confusion and chaos. There should be alternate mechanisms for students who are not able to attend offline classes at this moment,” read the SFI statement.
They also demanded that students should be given ample time to come to Delhi and arrange accommodation facilities for them. “Given that routes to Delhi from most states are busier than usual, this kind of expectation, without taking proper measures to address the issue of lack of trains etc, is farcical. SFI demands that the Ministry of Railways must start a DU special train across routes, or add a DU special coach to existing trains at least till the end of February,” they said. The SFI also demanded a levy period to be allowed in which tests, assignments etc should not be given to the students. Amid continued protests by student outfits demanding resumption of offline classes at DU, the varsity had on Wednesday issued an order announcing the commencement of classes in the physical mode for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses from February 17.