Students appearing for the JEE Mains in Kolkata in September 2020 | File image: ANI
File image of aspirants entering an exam centre for the JEE-Mains in Kolkata in September 2020 | ANI
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Delhi University Thursday announced the revised exam date sheet for final year students, postponing them to 7 June from 15 May.

My college WhatsApp group, like many other students, was immediately flooded with discussions about the notice and the implications it can have on all students, staff and non-teaching staff of the university.

DU has lost over 35 professors to Covid and many of us have gone through the loss of family members and friends. The news keeps on flashing the daily death toll of over 4,000 due to Covid-19 in our country, and Delhi is among the worst-hit zones.

In this scenario, what sort of impact does the exam date sheet have on students and other teaching staff?

As our healthcare system was crumbling, students got together and started SOS alerts for oxygen and plasma on social media platforms. The more I scrolled, the endless need of hospital beds shook me. There was good news of someone’s recovery, followed by disheartening news of someone losing both of their parents.

This loop is ongoing and the isolation has made things even more difficult for most of us.

While recent data shows that the mental health of frontline workers has spiked, the mental health of the common population, such as students, go unnoticed.

Although the alerts have decreased, they have not entirely vanished from our timelines. We still see people going through a lot of pain.

Postponing the date to 7 June, therefore, can trigger more students than help them in this disturbing situation.

Nothing is close to getting back to normal yet. It is predicted that the second wave will last at least till the end of July. I fail to envisage why DU is adamant about taking the final year exams on such short notice.

The positivity narrative

A gamut of emotions have taken a toll on our mental health and many of us are not prepared to “carry on” with our lives.

The whole country is suffering and there is negativity all around us, even if our Prime Minister said that we need to bring a lot of positivity to our mindset on his Mann Ki Baat programme. We are still unable to forget the horrifying visuals of people dying because of the lack of something as basic as oxygen and the endless burning pyres.

I am sure positivity can help someone cope in this unprecedented time, but the hundreds of bodies found in the Ganga makes it inappropriate for many of us to feel so.

Is death so easy to forget? I keep thinking about it.

People who were trying to recover from the loss of the first lockdown are getting overwhelmed with the second wave. This has made many students look for internships from home to support their family in any way.

Not a ‘banana bread’ first wave

This is not the first wave when people made banana bread and called it a day. The second wave is far more intense and challenging.

The vaccination drive for frontline workers has made them safe, but their children and other family members are risking their lives every day. Similarly, the shortage of vaccinations in Delhi for those above the age of 18, has made situations even worse.

There are many other factors affecting students such as looking after the home and helping their parents in this crisis.

At this time, when we should comfort each other and provide a space to heal, the fact that DU expects students and staff to magically forget everything and prepare for exams is blatantly ignorant.

This examination notice comes from a heartless education system, whose only motive is to see things through an academic lens and bury the mental torment that is present in every news, message, call and even our own homes.

Coming from a privileged background, I am fortunate enough to write this article. But many students are still struggling in many ways. Whether it is the lack of technological resources, battling the virus themselves, taking care of someone else infected or dealing with post-Covid symptoms.

For a moment, the university should stop looking at us as mere students and teachers, but as humans first who have gone through a lot of trauma.

Start acknowledging our circumstances and work together to make sure no one is left behind.

Khushi Ambardar is a student of Delhi College of Arts and Commerce

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