Published: 12th October 2021
DU's second-years demand reopening of colleges, threaten to boycott online classes
Among other things they are also missing out on the culture and politics and the general energy of the campus, the students claim
"The silence in the class, which otherwise is not present, is 'loud' enough to disturb everyone."
The batch of students that joined Delhi University in 2020 is desperate. It's been almost 20 months since their admission and they haven't even seen their college yet. And with COVID cases registering a steady decline across the country, these students are anxious and impatient to get on campus, finally.
The movement which first began in August when the notification for the first phase of reopening for DU colleges was released, has garnered almost 500 students. Gunjan Taneja, a second-year student of BA Political Science of the Indiraprastha College for Women says that they have students from almost 20 colleges on board. "We have lost people to the pandemic. We understand the dangers. But online classes are making us lose interest in education. We know COVID hasn't gone anywhere, but give us a date at least, start the hostel accommodation process. Do something," she urges.
The students had reached out to the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), when they had first launched the movement in August, but had received no support. However, this time around, a few teachers from DUTA have shown interest in the petition, even though there has been no formal endorsement from DUTA yet. Gunjan believes that cooperation from teachers is important, because online education simply isn't working anymore. "We are considering boycotting classes if we don't receive a positive response. And the attendance ever since the third semester began has been really low anyway — almost down to 20 per cent," she shares.
It feels as if both teachers and students have given up trying to learn via Zoom or Meet. Apart from network issues, there's also the fact that there are innumerable distractions for students. TEachers also apparently have washed their hands off of pulling up students for mission online classes or not paying attention. "They simply give us the PDFs and ask us to catch up," says Gunjan, a General Body member of All India Students Association.
The DU administration had reopened colleges for final year students from September 15, and so far there have been no reported incidents related to COVID-19. The second-year students claim that most of them are now above 18 years of age, and a good percentage of them are fully inoculated against COVID-19. "The demand to reopen the premises is not an impulsive decision, it is in fact a conscious assertion of the necessities of the various departments of our college who favour reopening," says the letter they have written to the administration. And these students seem to have done their homework about this "conscious assertion" too. "We carried out surveys on about 20,000 students, asking them about their vaccination status and if they were willing to return to campus. An overwhelming majority of them said they were vaccinated and eager to return," Gunjan tells Edexlive.