Three more mins ‘baby’ not cool! Exam invigilator remark — concern or brouhaha?

Updated on Jun 26, 2021 03:06 PM IST

A student of Christ University, Bengaluru, recently reported to the college authorities that she felt uncomfortable after reading an invigilator’s remark, at the time of her submitting the answer sheet online. College students from across the country debate on how mentally taxing such events are in an online campus scenario.

Christ University, Bengaluru, is in news after a student reported an uncomfortable remark by one of the online exam invigilators.
Christ University, Bengaluru, is in news after a student reported an uncomfortable remark by one of the online exam invigilators.
BySomya Suresh, Bengaluru

Even after completing her exam before time, a student of Bengaluru’s Christ University was shaking. It wasn’t due to the worry of how she would fare in her results, but the fact that when she informed her invigilator that she’s done writing the online exam and sought permission to leave, in reply she read the words “3 more minutes, baby”.

The student, who then took to social media to share a screen grab of this incident, reportedly spoke to other professors in her college and even filed a complaint, but the college hasn’t issued a public statement yet. In fact, when other students started sharing their opinions on social media, and we approached them, many refused to comment saying they have “instructed by the college to not to talk to anyone” on this matter.

So, on condition of anonymity, a student from the same college, tells us: “We use a software called mettle that assigns us a proctor (invigilator) who is there to monitor us while we write the exam. The problem with the software is that the proctor can see everything we’re doing while we’re writing our papers but we don’t know anything about who is there behind the camera. Even I’ve been told to lower my camera several times during exams but I never thought about it in a negative light till this incident happened.”

Three more mins ‘baby’ not cool! Exam invigilator remark — concern or brouhaha?
Three more mins ‘baby’ not cool! Exam invigilator remark — concern or brouhaha?

The students who decided to speak to us, were disappointed with the way that the college authorities dealt with this concern even after a formal complaint. Stating how these events impact their mental health, many made several calls made to the university but to no avail. “The student we are talking about, first shared this anonymously and later revealed her identity. Then, more and more students came out sharing similar problems. Seeing how the college took no action initially, we had to bring it to the media and put it out there. After all this effort, the university finally decided to look into the matter. But I’m very disappointed that it took us so much of effort to actually get this case noticed by our university,” says another student at Christ, opining, “As a teacher, one needs to think before they speak and utter such words. Because it’s certainly not cool to talk like this!”

Students across the country, from various universities, have been asking for the redressal of this issue, on social media. An undergraduate student of Delhi University, on the condition of anonymity, shares a similar experience, stating: “In one of my digital classes my professor made me and the girls in the class extremely uncomfortable by asking us to switch on the camera continuously. And not the boys, but only we were being asked to open the cameras. The way he talks to us and jokes with us in the class also made us extremely uncomfortable. It’s difficult when teachers behave this way as we see them as an authority source and feel scared and are unable to speak up because of the fear of repercussions.”

Three more mins ‘baby’ not cool! Exam invigilator remark — concern or brouhaha?
Three more mins ‘baby’ not cool! Exam invigilator remark — concern or brouhaha?

Even the student unions are angered by the way the incident has been dealt with. “Students want their college to be a place of safety and demand transparency in the system. And this is not the first such complaint filed by students,” says Manish Govind Raj, state general secretary of NSUI Karnataka, adding, “The university settled the matter with the local authorities and the parents of the student who wanted to take this up further but were not allowed to. As a student and a youth leader, I don’t understand why this should be continued. When we asked them (the university) on what happens if we refuse to take the exams online in this way, all they say is take it offline without any clarity on when and how it will be facilitated. I’m sure they can be a little more sensitive that this.”

Some opine that all this is just brouhaha considering it's common to use words such as “dear” when in a conversational tone. Nevertheless, it does leave a bad impression on a young mind. Gitanjali Lall, a psychologist, says, “For students to address such a concern or talk about such an incident takes a lot of courage. I feel the college should try to rehabilitate them and help them instead of shunning the subject... With digital media and online cyber bullying so common, students going through such cyber bullying must be taken care of immediately. It can have a lasting impact on their mental health and how they perceive themselves or their image.”

(With inputs by Aprajita Sharad)

Author tweets @somyasuresh

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