Students, teachers demand reopening of DU campus; university awaits DDMA guidelines

Members of the All India Students' Association are on a 48-hour hunger strike to press for their demand of reopening the campus for students.


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Press Trust of India | October 26, 2021 | 06:35 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The chorus for reopening the Delhi University campus has grown louder with several teachers and students demanding resumption of offline teaching as the COVID-19 situation has normalised in the national capital. The university, however, plans to tread a cautious path and is awaiting guidelines from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

Members of the All India Students' Association are on a 48-hour hunger strike to press for their demand of reopening the campus for students. Akshit Dahiya, president of the Delhi University Students' Union, said laboratory classes resumed for final-year students last month but the attendance is still poor.

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"Online classes do not fulfil the same objectives as offline teaching. A majority of students studying in the university are from outside Delhi, and they feel that coming for just lab work is not feasible. We have submitted several memorandums on the issue to the vice-chancellor and will also be holding a protest on Thursday to demand the reopening of the campus," he added.

Manish Kansal, professor of physics at the Hindu College, too said several students who are from outside Delhi do not feel it is viable for them to return to the city just for attending laboratory classes. Abha Dev Habib, Delhi University Teachers' Association treasurer, said unless the university allows offline exams, students will not think about returning to the campus.

"Even in the case of schools, exams were held offline first and then physical classes began. Students have gotten used to unproctored exams (open book exams held due to the pandemic) and will not come back till the tests go offline. The number of students coming to laboratories is really low," she added.

Former Executive Council member Rajesh Jha said the reopening of the university must be discussed in statutory bodies like the AC and the EC so that required safeguards and students' interests are taken care of. "Online classes during the Covid crisis exposed its severe limitations, and have diluted the quality of pedagogy required for higher education," he said.

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However, Registrar Vikas Gupta said the campus will be reopened only if the DDMA allowed 100 per cent seating capacity. Most of the students are from outside Delhi, and it will be difficult for teachers to decide whom to call with a 50-per cent seating cap, he added.

On plans to reopen the university for students, DU VC Yogesh Singh had earlier said, "We will open the campus but slowly. We don't want to open it in a hurry and risk the lives of students. The places that we can open, we will open. The university also doesn't seem like a university without students, but we want to proceed slowly."

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