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Delhi University Resumes Offline Classes, but Students Are Absent From Campus

DU resumes offline classes from Wednesday but most colleges stay closed; Students say there is still little clarity.

Updated
Education
5 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Few students return to campuses as University resumes offline classes.</p></div>
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The University of Delhi has officially resumed its offline classes for final year undergraduate and postgraduate students from Wednesday, 15 September. The University restarted cautiously. At the moment these offline classes cover only Science students, and just their laboratory 'practical' classes, which even so, would involve hundreds of students.

However, colleges saw very few attendees on the first day. A majority of students who are supposed to be attending these offline classes are still absent from campuses.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Empty roads inside Hindu College campus </p></div>

Empty roads inside Hindu College campus

(Photo Courtesy: Paridhi Gaur)

"College sent consent forms to all students, but half of our batch refused to come," said Aryan,19, a third-year BSc student from Hindu College who lives in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. "This is the case with all science courses in our college, so no lectures were held today in our college at least."

"The college has given no official information about reopening. It is not mandatory either, so we don't think the college is opening anytime soon."
Aryan, 3rd year Bsc student and president of the science forum, Hindu College
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Reena Sharma, 21, third year Chemistry Honours student, Ramjas College, is attending online lectures from her village in Bulandshahr, UP where the poor internet connection has made online classes difficult for her.</p></div>

Reena Sharma, 21, third year Chemistry Honours student, Ramjas College, is attending online lectures from her village in Bulandshahr, UP where the poor internet connection has made online classes difficult for her.

(Photo Courtesy: Reena Sharma)

This situation might prevail for at least a few more weeks till colleges are more clear with their guidelines and instructions on critical issues like attendance, hostel accommodation, and equally important, COVID-19-related protocols, from masking and social distancing, and even quarantine and contact tracing rules in case a student or faculty member or any other college staff member, tests positive.

Confusion Prevails, Students Seek More Clarity

"Even if I want to go back, the hostel in our college is shut right now. Looking outside for accommodation is not an option because it is too expensive and time-consuming. So I cannot come back till I know that the hostel is open," said a third-year Chemistry Honours student from Venkateshwara College in Delhi University's south campus, who lives in Jhajjar, Haryana.

“We are a central university so at times even when the Delhi government issues statements, they are not followed. When the education minister said colleges will reopen, our parents started asking us, but what do we do if our college is giving no official information?” asked Surbhi Baisoya, 19, a third-year BSc Home Science student, from Lady Irwin College.

The lack of planning and coordination between online and offline classes has also made things difficult for students.

<div class="paragraphs"><p> A student writes her details in a register before entering the Miranda House College after DU colleges reopened for final-year students on Wednesday.</p></div>

A student writes her details in a register before entering the Miranda House College after DU colleges reopened for final-year students on Wednesday.

(Photo: PTI)

“These ‘hybrid classes’ are creating a lot of confusion. Online theory lectures are in between practical classes on the campus. How are we supposed to show up for both because the college campus has no internet connection and there is no time to travel to the college and not miss online lectures.”
Reena Sharma, 21, 3rd year Chemistry Honours student, Ramjas college
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>A popular eatery among students of the colleges in DU's north campus that has been empty since the colleges shut in 2020.</p></div>

A popular eatery among students of the colleges in DU's north campus that has been empty since the colleges shut in 2020.

(Photo Courtesy: Paridhi Gaur)

“No one wants to go to college to attend only practical classes. I am the class representative and barring two-three students no one wants classes to resume,” said Reena.

Many Enrolled in Parallel Preparations, Don’t Want to Resume Offline Classes

The DU was supposed to open its colleges for all departments and centres where practical classes are required, at 50% attendance. But students say they prefer to not return to colleges now because many have started parallel online courses owing to the long while that colleges had been shut.

"I have started my preparations for IIT-JAM and CDS exams, I am focusing on them now more than university exams. So I would not want to attend full-time college now because I simply don't have the bandwidth for it."
Aryan, 3rd year Bsc student, Hindu College
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Meanwhile theory classes for all other courses are to continue online.

"Arts students have no idea when they will resume. 'Shut until further notice' is what we have been hearing for so long and we could not sit and wait. So a majority of students have started working on other things and we would not want to go back to the college now," said Paridhi Gaur, a third-year, BA Political Science student from Hindu College.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>"Nobody wanted to study off the campus, but now it has been so long and we have figured our schedules and engagements with online classes, not many would want to go back to the campus now," says Paridhi Gaur, third-year Political Science student, Hindu College.</p></div>

"Nobody wanted to study off the campus, but now it has been so long and we have figured our schedules and engagements with online classes, not many would want to go back to the campus now," says Paridhi Gaur, third-year Political Science student, Hindu College.

(Photo Courtesy: Paridhi Gaur)

COVID Scare and Lack of Faith on College Protocols

Current university guidelines require students attending offline practical classes to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, for hostel students, both doses of vaccine are mandatory.

“Our parents are very scared. Students living outside Delhi are not being allowed to come because of the imminent third wave,” said Surbhi. “Our college protocols are also lousy, last time when the college was opened for third-year practical classes in March this year, everyone, from students, to teachers to non-teaching staff, got COVID.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Students inside Ramjas College after DU colleges reopened for final-year students on&nbsp; Wednesday.</p></div>

Students inside Ramjas College after DU colleges reopened for final-year students on  Wednesday.

(Photo: PTI)

‘Honestly, We Don’t Feel Colleges Will Reopen Anytime Soon’

Given the major confusion over commencement of classes, students do not expect colleges to reopen, despite the DU’s official statement.

“College is supposed to open with half strength, but who will come on which day is still not figured. We expect a little more clarity from our teachers,” said Zaid Ilyas, 20, a third-year BSc Zoology student from Hansraj College, who lives in Lakshmi Nagar and is keen to be back on campus.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Zaid Ilyas, 20, third-year BSc Zoology student, Hansraj College, says he is bored with attending online lectures on his phone. He wishes to return to the campus but does not think it will happen soon.</p></div>

Zaid Ilyas, 20, third-year BSc Zoology student, Hansraj College, says he is bored with attending online lectures on his phone. He wishes to return to the campus but does not think it will happen soon.

(Photo Courtesy: Ziad Ilyas)

“Honestly, I don’t think the college is expecting students to come back yet and while there is some talk, there are no systems in place. We don’t think things will actually happen for another month or two.

While the university has allowed for the phased reopening of its campus, neither the colleges nor the students seem to be ready yet, and so, this ‘phased reopening’ might go a lot slower than expected.

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