We’re Grieving, Tired: DU Student’s Plea to Scrap Final Year Exams

68.2% of the DU students surveyed said that they were not in the right physical or mental state to study for exams.

4 min read
Delhi University is set to take its final year exams as the country reels from the second wave of COVID-19.

“I lost my father to COVID a few days back. I myself am at a quarantine centre. How am I supposed to sit for exams at a time like this?” my batchmate Priya (name changed), a final year student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) asks me, and I have no answer.

I had stood first in my class in my first year, and second in the second year. When the latter had happened a year ago, I had told myself that I would try to climb back to the top in my final year.

A year from that thought, as I tiredly prepare for Delhi University’s final year exams next week, academic rankings are at the bottom of my priorities.

The Absurdity of The Situation

When my mom got COVID-19 last month, I was frightened to say the least. It happened at a time when many others around me were testing positive. Having taken up the duties of cleaning and cooking for the first time, in addition to caring for my mother who was being treated at home, I could no longer make time for my online classes which I had attended so diligently before that.

It felt strange to see others carry on like normal, when my own routine had come to an anxious halt. It seemed odd that my friends were discussing classwork on WhatsApp groups when I was taken up with something entirely different.

I was worried about my academic performance. And I’m immensely fortunate that was my only problem.

In the coming weeks, my friends, classmates, professors and their families continued to be battered by the devastating disease. The situation went from bad to heartbreaking.

Just a handful of students – no more than 10 – joined in for the last two days of classes I attended before the semester terminated. Three of my professors were not taking classes at the time as they were down with COVID, too.

With the tragic second wave of COVID-19 that the country has so recently witnessed, and continues to reel from, it seems absurd, almost unreal, when I think I have to take my final year exams next week.


Most DU Students Are Not in ‘The Right Physical or Mental State’

“I’m still recovering from COVID,” my classmate Hinakshi Kundra tells me. Her parents are still ailing from the disease. “I have some leftover exhaustion. I’m not sure how will I be able to write these four-hour long exams,” she adds.

A survey conducted by the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) suggests that a little more than two-third of the DU student population is not ‘in the right physical or mental state to appear for online exams.’ This comes as no surprise.

My friend Kritika’s grandmother passed away due to COVID a couple of weeks back. Priya’s family is still recovering from COVID – and loss. Another batchmate lost her grandmother and uncle within the span of a week.

But it is not just the students who are suffering from COVID, or have family members doing so, who are disconcerted.

Sanjana from my college does not have a stable internet connection at home. She is anxious that she will not be able to go to a nearby school to write the online exams like she did the last time due to the lockdown in Haryana.

Ghada from my class does not have access to the library books she usually studies from due to COVID curbs in Kerala’s Malappuram.


What the DUSU Survey Shows

The DUSU survey indicates that 27.2 percent of the university students tested positive for COVID in the last few months. Around 53.7 percent said their family members had suffered from the infection. And 49.9 percent reported facing severe symptoms upon them/their family testing positive.

68.2 percent of the students said they were not in the physical or mental state to prepare for or to attempt the imminent exams.

The results of the survey have been shared with the DU administration, LSR Students’ Union President Karthika Sajeev tells me. No response has been received.

Repeated emails have been sent by students to the DU authorities, pleading for exams to be cancelled. Several students have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns.

The university has lost several professors and even a few students to the devastating outbreak of the viral infection.


‘Are We Not Hurting?’

The DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA), in a letter to the university’s Vice Chancellor PC Joshi, has implored the university to review its decision on conducting examinations in the current situation.

“With the kind of damage which families have suffered, we feel that the university should review the decision regarding examinations for the terminal semester/year students. The alternate mode adopted for the continuing students may be extended to the terminal semester students as well.”
DUTA Letter to Delhi University’s Vice Chancellor

Some institutions, like IIIT Delhi and Gujarat University, have scrapped their end-semester exams. Several others, like Delhi Technological University and IIT Guwahati, had already put in place a continuous assessment system of evaluation in the online mode, in order to relieve the burden of singular end-semester exams. In a historic move, Class XII board exams too were recently cancelled for this year.

The Delhi University expressed its support of the government’s decision to call off the board exams in a tweet: “The University of Delhi also feels that the health and safety of our students is of utmost importance. The University of Delhi looks forward to the decision taken by CBSE regarding the declaration of the results.”

“Why only us, then? Are we not hurting?” a friend asks.

Again, I have no answer.

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