With Covid cases down in the capital, nearly all universities are seeing protests from students demanding that campuses be opened and physical classes resume.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, being a residential campus, was the first to see protests with many students led by the JNU Students Union demanding that all students be allowed to return in a phase-wise manner.
The first phase of return began on November 2 last year when only final-year PhD students of science school and special centres were allowed to enter the campus. Since then, the university has allowed more students to enter, including final-year M.Phil students and final-year M.Tech students.
However, the JNUSU has demanded that students from the social sciences and arts should also be allowed inside. As of now, the only non-science students allowed are final year PhD students who need to submit their thesis by June 30. Their entry has only been allowed on February 15.
Two campuses that have seen protests in the past one week are Jamia Millia Islamia and Ambedkar University Delhi. In both cases, there is a demand for restarting physical classes.
Unlike JNU, Jamia has not yet begun even a partial reopening. In an office memo dated February 8, the Registrar said, “The Online teaching and virtual demonstration of laboratory work shall continue to be conducted for all academic programs through online platform till the time the Executive Council decides the date of re-opening of the university in a phased manner after receiving affirmative consent and opinion from the parents on the matter in the light of Covid situation.”
Jamia’s EC has in fact decided that a survey be conducted and its finding be placed before the body in its next meeting “after the month of March 2021”, suggesting that any opening of campus will only take place April onwards.
At AUD, while classes are still taking place completely online, students have been given access to facilities like the library and computer lab, and research scholars have also been allowed access to the lounge made for them. The canteen, however, is yet to open. Here, too, the demand of physical classes or at least teaching in blended mode is being made by students, and the AUD Students’ Council is in the process of conducting a survey.
Delhi University had opened on February 1 for final-year students who needed access to laboratory facilities. However, theory classes are being conducted online. Since reopening, DU has also allowed access to five of its libraries and its reading rooms to research scholars and faculty members. However, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad which heads the DU Student’s Union has demanded more.
On Thursday, protests are planned in DU’s North Campus demanding physical classes, especially for final-year students, and access to all libraries.