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‘Will be attending offline classes for 1st time’ — students excited, anxious as DU set to reopen

Decision to restart physical classes from 17 February comes after protests by student organisations. DU asks outstation students to reach Delhi in 10 days, quarantine for 3 days.

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New Delhi: After functioning online for about two years, Delhi University (DU) has finally announced the resumption of physical classes from 17 February. The central university had first shut down and switched to online classes in March 2020 when the national lockdown was announced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The decision comes after protests at DU, including outside the vice-chancellor’s office, over the past two days by various student organisations, demanding a return to offline classes. It was greeted with both excitement and anxiety by students.  

In an office order dated 9 February (Wednesday), Delhi University stated that the decision to start physical classes for all undergraduate and postgraduate students was taken after a meeting between the vice-chancellor, principals and heads of departments. The university has asked students to reach Delhi within 10 days and quarantine themselves for three days. 

The order also states that all hostels and buildings of the university are to be sanitised and well-ventilated before classes restart. 

Vaccination of students, teaching and non-teaching staff, if not done yet, would also have to be completed, it adds.

DU Proctor Rajni Abbi met protesting students outside the vice-chancellor’s office Wednesday afternoon and made the announcement about the reopening of the university. 

Also read: Why Delhi University is first choice for students across India despite its 100% cut-offs

‘Attending college for the first time’

Samaa, a student of Hansraj College, said outstation students are now waiting for further instructions from their respective colleges. The Chhattisgarh-based student said she “welcomes the move” and is looking forward to joining classes, but “am extremely worried about the logistics”. “Our college doesn’t have a girls hostel and traveling and finding an accommodation within a week’s time is extremely difficult,” she added.

Haryana resident Deependar Kumar, a second-year student at Kirori Mal College, is looking forward to the sports and extracurricular activities in college. The 21-year-old, who is pursuing a BSc in physical science, said he will be attending physical classes for the first time. “I am eager to attend physical college. Classes have been online since I enrolled in November 2020.”

Outstation students also said getting train or plane tickets, along with finding accommodation, on such short notice would be difficult. 

Hitesh Kumar, a second-year student of Delhi College of Arts and commerce, said he would rely on student organisations to search for accommodation.

“Commuting will not be such a big issue since I currently live in Haryana, but finding a house will be difficult. I am hoping the SFI (Students’ Federation of India) will help me find a PG accommodation.”

Widespread protests by student bodies

Students from organisations like the SFI and the All India Students’ Association (AISA) had been conducting protests over the past few days at DU, demanding the resumption of physical classes, citing difficulties with online learning. 

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), too, had staged a protest, with its members sitting on a fast. 

The lack of direction from DU on reopening, after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) authorised the reopening of higher educational institutions earlier this month, had sparked unrest among students. 

During the protest at DU Tuesday, a 23-year-old Master’s student of Buddhism even tried to set himself ablaze. 

Demanding the reopening of colleges, over 3,200 students of Hindu College had been boycotting their online classes over the past two days. 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: ‘Want Delhi University to be more inclusive’: V-C pushes for entrance exams instead of cut-offs


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