Delhi School of Journalism Students Writes to the Delhi High Court Against Online Examinations

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University of Delhi: With the protests against the online examinations spewing in the University of Delhi, the students of the Delhi School of Journalism (DSJ) have written a letter to the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court stating their grievances. The letter mentions the University’s “draconian overnight decision to conduct online examinations” from July 01, 2020, which was issued on the evening of May 14 2020, as “blatantly unfair and demeaning to the students.” The students were directed to file an online copy of the letter petition by the Court’s registrar and they claim to have sent more than 500 emails already.

The University witnessed strikes and protests from the professors, starting from December 2019 which continued till February 2020. After which the University was declared shut from March 09 2020, for the mid-semester break and eventually the lockdown came into effect on March 23, 2020. The letter also highlights how “an alternative online class system was used to conduct classes” which was supposed to be “an aid and not a substitute.” “The extremely poor attendance of these online classes” was due to the “logistical and financial shortcomings” of the students; thus, they “failed to reap the benefits” of such classes.

A major argument posed by the students was when Justice Rajiv Shakdher questioned JNU’s move to conduct online classes: “Purpose of exams is to evaluate what the students have learnt. But if, practically, no classes were held, then what are they being evaluated on? Are they being evaluated on what’s written in books?” Interestingly, “the online classes were made voluntary by the University” which the letter goes on to say has sparked the outrage on the decision being held as “unwise to subject the students to the mandatory online examinations”.

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The DSJ students have shown solidarity with the PwD students who need scribes to write the academic papers and the Kashmiri students who do not have access to the 4G connection. Moreover, the students have also stated the psychological and household challenges being faced by some and the blunt truth that not everyone is privileged enough to enjoy “adequate resources” in terms of technology, a stable internet connection and an appropriate room to appear for the examinations. The students are not “in practice” of any form of Open Book Examinations (OBE) and due to the mid-semester break and the subsequent nation-wide lockdown, do not have access to their study materials. The letter goes on and explains that “Hence, any online examination shall be detrimental to their academic performance, even after the examinations are made open-book.” 

The letter also highlights the University Grants Commission (UGC) report dated April 29 2020, which states that “the present IT infrastructure of the universities coupled with the accessibility of internet connection in the remote parts of the country makes it infeasible for the universities to uniformly adopt the online mode of examinations.” The Ministry of Human Resource and Development also issued an advisory stating the students to be graded on the basis of 50% of the marks of the previous semesters and 50% of the Internal Assessments if the current situation prevails.

All in all, the students of the Delhi School of Journalism have invited the intervention of the court in this matter and have requested it to take Suo-moto cognizance of the situation which directly affects lacs of students of the University.

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