Student lives matter: DU students say no to exams amid Covid-19
The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently laid down new guidelines recommending universities to conduct the final year examinations for higher education, latest by this September. But since the commission has left the decision of the mode of conduct of examination – offline (pen and paper) or online (open book exam; OBE) or a blend of both – on the decision of the respective varsities, the students at Delhi University are agitated due to DU’s visible preference for OBE exams.
Earlier, UGC had recommended all universities to call-off the exams, but soon after the revised guidelines came in, students have been taking to social media to express their angst. “DU has decided to postpone the exam yet again, and planning to conduct them in August now, but the recently conducted mock online exams was a flop show. The mock test was to give us a chance to get acquainted with the process of online, OBE exams. And it’s obvious that this is how DU plans to conduct exams later as well. But, the mock tests preceding the online exams were a failure. I joined the twitter trend against boycotting the final exams, #Studentslivesmatter and authorities must understand that,” says Shubham KR Jaiswal, a final year student of B Com (Prog) at Ramanujan College.
DU’s decision to conduct online exams saw overnight vandalism on the campus with roadside signages, bus stops, etc getting spray painted with protest slogans. An anonymous rap video has is also being circulated on social media by student political parties. Utkarsh Singh, a final year student of Hindi (Hons) at Satyawati College, who is in Uttar Pradesh at present, says, “Though we are at home, we know about the vandalism on campus and feel it’s done with the right intention to ensure that our plea doesn’t fall on deaf ears. We didn’t get any online class throughout the lockdown, and were not even provided any study material! Many of us don’t have laptops, and now that monsoon has begun, many are facing power cuts as well... How do you expect us to give an online test then? I wasn’t able to even log in to the DU website to appear for the mock test. And if you talk about offline exams, then that’s more unbelievable! With Covid-19 cases increasing rapidly, how can I risk my health to travel from my village Amgaliyan and go back to Delhi to write an exam!”
Students have complaint of experiencing anxiety and depression due to the constant changes in the status of examination mode and dates. Singh adds, “For students who choose to give offline exams in September, it’ll be so difficult to compete with students who would have given online OBE. Online exams are discriminatory in nature. In such circumstances, when the authorities aren’t helping us, what must we do to express our angst?”
Calling the rap video that’s being widely circulated as relatable, students are registering their defiance to online exams and are questioning the validity of attempting delayed offline exams. “The rap video that’s circulating on social media is actually what we all our feeling at this point of time. Mock tests were a failure. Even if I choose to not to give online exams for now, I’ll have to give exams in pen and paper by September. What guarantee is there that things will become better by then? And that it will lead to delay in admissions to higher courses, since we won’t get our degree until then, is another issues. I can’t give online exams or wait till September to give offline exams, what do I do?” rues Aaditya Singh, a final year student of B Com (Prog) at School of Open Learning.
Many students have started petitions on social media against online exams. “Twitter trends, petitions, rap videos, and long social media posts express our state of mind. Mock exams were a trailer of what a film the online exams are going to be — We were supposed to upload documents of 5 MB but the site wasn’t even accepting two pages of a few KB,” says Himanshi Pandey, a final year students of Hindi (Hons) at Miranda House, adding, “Many of my classmates got the access to the question paper too late to even get enough time to write. And sabse zyada problem thi documents scan karne me because saare documents ek saath upload krne ka option nahi tha. Toh humko individually saari photos click kar ke ek ek kar ke upload karni padi. How can these problems be resolved in a span of few days for final online exams? And offline exams are out of question as our parents won’t allow us to travel amid the pandemic. Our future is at stake!”
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha