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Abnormalcy around, Normalcy in University Campuses?

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Two years back, our college campuses meant the world to us given the lectures bunked, friends made, parties attended, metro interchanges done, hearts entwined, and most importantly, a routine. But since we all are glued to our couches with Zoom and Google Meet becoming our chaperons, we all have been in great discomfort. But that’s not what is the matter of great anguish. With abnormalcy around, normalcy can be sensed in university campuses.

ABNORMALCY AROUND, NORMALCY IN UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES?

Every now and then, college WhatsApp groups exhale sharp hue and cry – innumerable students asking for injections, ICU beds, oxygen cylinders; many are suffering themselves, many are appealing for their immediate or extended family members, many for their pals. Be it, students or lecturers, we have lost a considerable number of gems, who were in their youth, because of the virus. The population sect associated with the educational institutions can be seen facing problems on both academic as well as the financial end.

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However, universities are hard-scrambling thus making it pretty obvious that the pandemic situation is a dead letter for them.

Websites of several university associations are busy flashing NEP, vocational courses, and whatnot. For UGC, sadly, ragging and credit cards are much more important.

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One’s vision takes a minimum of 5 minutes to shift focus from these websites to COVID helplines, demises, verifications on WhatsApp Messenger.

“It is surreal that to be engaging a class and suddenly have a message flashing that the person for whom you were trying arrange oxygen has just passed away. How to reach that state of equanimity in which you continue reciting the works of Muktibodh, fighting with the thought gnawing your heart that this death was not inevitable, that this death was an act of injustice. To develop a pedagogy that can address this sense of failure, of struggle against institutionalized injustice is a task we have to undertake.”, states Apoorvanand a Hindi lecturer at DU with a great sigh.

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Social media has become a Suez Canal for those in dire need and citizens are becoming backroom warriors extending Google Sheet. Religious institutes are offering food, medical support, and whatnot. But how are universities especially DU responding to the cries engulfing us?

दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय में आपका स्वागत है!

Umpteen lecturers of the guest faculty are working without salaries. Exams have become sine dine. While notices are appearing in dribs and drabs, collegiate and faculty are in dire straits. Welcome to pandemic-afflicted DU!

While there is a show of sympathy for members of the faculty and students who are dying almost daily, but on human grounds, the university isn’t seconding any thoughts.

Read here | DU Loses 30 Of Its Teachers And Staff

We cannot forget how the DU colleges insensitively forced the hostel students out during the first lockdown. Students made their way back losing the luxury of a separate corner they had in their hostel rooms. Then the questions of connectivity, broadband capacity, and availability of study material came up. But we accepted the need to rush through the syllabus, even if grudgingly. This was a charade and we were the willing party. There never was a period when classes had turned become so impersonal. With shortened semesters, DU wanted the students to showcase their audacity during these unparalleled times. That the pandemic had not been able to disturb our normal life, which we all knew was a hoax. The lecturers did establish an emotional rapport with their students but all their efforts have failed to cater to the needs of students.

DU was asleep at the switch during all this time. No college was thinking of providing space as a temporary shelter. Nor that its mess could become a kitchen serving the patients. DU’s gigantic National Service Scheme did not extend support even during the “migrant crisis” till now. Finally, a college or two decided to extend infrastructural support to some medical facilities around Delhi. The principal of one of the North Campus colleges offered space near his home to run a community kitchen.

Read here | Hansraj College Offers To Turn Its Hostel Into A 100-Bed COVID-19 ICU Facility

MAY GOD SAVE ALL OF US!

The University staff mechanically donated to the not-so transparent PM CARES Fund. However, many wanted to pour in the cup of PM Relief Fund. This was a clear rendition of the authorities not being constricted by their accountability to their academic community.

At every instance, there is a lack of holistic response as an academic institution. For instance, the case of North-east students being ragged or Muslims being labeled as mass-spreaders. We never ever brought up these issues structurally in our academic spaces.

Since March 2020, there was no curricular response to the emergency that had thrown our collective life out of gear. May God save all of us!

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