Jamia students demand phase-wise reopening of campus, can’t decide in haste: V-C
Even as Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have come out with plans for the phase-wise reopening of its campuses to students, Jamia Millia Islamia is yet to take a call on the matter, much to the ire of students who protested outside the university on Thursday demanding the restarting of in-person classes.
Protesting students also submitted a memorandum to the university administration. “Normalcy is being restored in all domains of human interaction… Given the fact that a number of students can’t afford or manage smartphones, Internet connectivity, laptops etc., it will only increase the loss to the student community if the administration prolongs the only option of online education,” read the memorandum submitted by Hammadur Rahman, president, Jamia unit of SIO (Students Islamic Organisation).
Rahman said their demands include the reopening of the central library and reading halls, making them accessible to all students and the phase-wise resumption of in-person classes for all students.
Shivangi Yadav, a final-year undergraduate student of English, said, “Most students are in favour of resuming in-person classes in a phased manner. First-year students want to see the campus before they leave and many from marginalised backgrounds need access to the library and resources. Many students need access to hostels as well.”
Following the Delhi Disaster Management Authority directives on August 30, allowing students of higher educational institutions to return to campuses as long as a 50% seating capacity is maintained in classrooms, both DU and JNU came out with their own reopening schedules.
While JNU has allowed final-year PhD students to return to campus since Monday, with a mandatory negative Covid-19 test report, DU has allowed final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students to return from September 15 for their practicals, lab work, or academic consultation. DU students would require to be at least partially vaccinated to enter the campus.
Shoaib Khan, a member of All India Students Association (AISA) and a fourth-year law student at Jamia, said, “We have been demanding reopening since March this year and at that time, they (university officials) were inclined on reopening the campus in a phased manner beginning with libraries. But everything changed after the second wave. Most Delhi universities have already come out with a plan whereas there is no such conversation happening in Jamia. We will have to protest if the university doesn’t take a step in this direction [reopening].”
Vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar said the university has not discussed reopening the campus to undergraduate students so far. “These matters will be discussed in our executive council meeting. We have already been allowing final-year postgraduate students of professional and science courses to come to the campus for their practicals and lab work. Even final-year PhD students are allowed to come to campus with a special permit. With the risk of a third wave around the corner, we cannot take any decision in haste as that would put our students at risk. The matter will be decided in the executive council soon,” she said.