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'We Want to Experience University Life': Jamia Students Boycott Online Classes

Students across 32 departments of JMI have boycotted online classes, as they demand resumption of offline classes.

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“We come from small towns with a hope to experience university life, to gain exposure, and have discussions with our batchmates,'' a first-year BA student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who is originally from Bihar, told The Quint.

This student, however, is unable to experience the life on campus, as Jamia has resumed physical classes only for final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students. The rest are still waiting to go back to the classrooms ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

According to students, over 2,000 of them, across 34 departments of Jamia have boycotted their online classes. The boycott began on 11 April, Monday, and will continue for the rest of the week.
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Students said that they have done everything they could – from protesting on campus to directly reaching out to the university administration multiple times. The administration had earlier told students that they would reopen in phases, hence the classes reopened for the final-year students and postgraduate students in March. However, students said that they are repeatedly told to wait for a few more days.

Jamia Chief Proctor, Professor Waseem Ahmed Khan, told The Quint that he was not aware of the students boycotting online classes.

It did not make sense to resume classes for all students as their exams are coming up in May and most of their syllabus is complete. We will assess the situation after that and take a decision.
Professor Waseem Ahmed Khan, Chief Proctor

What Are Students' Demands?

Their primary demand is that their physical classes be resumed soon. They have also asked for a notice for hostel allotment. Students said that if Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have opened, Jamia should have followed suit. They have also asked for a clear academic calendar.

A press release by the students boycotting classes stated, “The National Disaster Management Authority has discontinued COVID-19 containment measures March 31 onwards, however, we are unable to comprehend the reasons behind the delay in resumption for offline classes for us. Therefore, we as bonafide students of Jamia Millia Islamia demand clarity from the authorities.”

‘It's A Beautiful Campus But We Don’t Get to Experience It’

Anurag Kumar Bauddh, a second-year BSc Biotechnology student, said, “I have gone to campus only for admissions and to pay fees. When I got a glimpse of the campus and campus life, I thought that I have come to the right place.”

Originally from a small village in UP’s Etawah district, Anurag was the first from his town to gain admission to a central university. He taught tuition for a year during the lockdown in order to save up for PG accommodation but has not gotten the chance to stay in Delhi yet.

I have studied biotechnology for two years but I have never seen a microscope. Will anyone admit us for a Masters course like this?

Mohammed Adnan, a second year student of civil engineering, said, “it is not just Delhi. Universities across the country have opened or at least informed students about when they will open.”

He said that his sleep pattern has been impacted by the change in daily routine in the last two years and that he does not get sleep at night.

Students added that they cannot achieve their full potential since they do not have practicals and an access to the library. But mostly, they say that they are missing out on the university experience. For many of them, admission to a university in the national capital means leaving their home states for the first time.

A student from Srinagar who did not want to be named said, “other students are getting to experience fests and university life, while we are still in our hometowns.”

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Issues Faced During Online Classes

Students from different parts of the country have been facing issues with learning due to connectivity issues. Recalling a technical glitch he faced during an examination, the student from Bihar said, “while submitting my examination, I had internet problems. Even though I had written the examination on time, I could not submit it. Then I had to write mails to my professors and send it via email.”

Their online classes are riddled with such incidents, say students. The student from Srinagar said that the biggest issue for her has been connectivity.

“I can see my classmates interacting with professors but because of connectivity issues, I cannot do that. Hence, I am not able to perform as well as I can and this is taking a toll on me mentally.
A student from Srinagar

A history student from Uttar Pradesh, who did not want to be named, said, “I just cannot sit at home anymore,” adding that he has been at home since the time he was in Class 12 and that it has been taking a mental and physical toll on him.

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“It affects students differently. Some have connectivity issues while others are mentally disturbed because they cannot perform well. A few of them even have complicated family dynamics that are not allowing them to study at home," said the student.

"A university is supposed to be a foundation for the rest of our lives, it is supposed to prepare us for the job market. But none of that is happening," the student told The Quint.

A few professors have shown solidarity with students and agreed to suspend classes. The students will continue to boycott classes for the rest of the week and this might go on for longer if there are no developments, they said.

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