The students of Mathematics Department of Delhi University have been protesting against the university administration for almost a month now, for failing 35 out of the 40 students in the semester examination of M.A. and M. Sc. The students have been on an indefinite strike, and have been boycotting the classes since February 14, demanding that a special committee be formed to re-evaluate their papers.
On Tuesday, March 12, the students organised a protest demonstration in front of the vice chancellor’s office, and tried to go inside. However, their attempts were stopped by the police. The students accused the police of using force to manhandle them. They continued their protest in front of the gate.
Swati, a second-year student of M. Sc., told Newsclick, “Our results were declared on February 8. We were very shocked to see the kind of marks we had received. After asking other students, we found out that most of us had failed in at least one paper. And even in the papers we had passed, the scores were much lesser than what we had expected.”
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She said that the students were certain that there was something wrong with the evaluation system. “We are the students who scored more than 85 per cent in our graduation, or cleared the Delhi University admission test. That’s how we got admission into this course. It is impossible that so many of us failed in these papers.”
Apart from unfair evaluation of the papers, the students have also alleged that several candidates were marked absent despite being present on the day of the exam, and several others were marked present and even cleared the examination even though they were not present.
Prabhat, another second-year student of Mathematics department, told Newsclick, “I was present at all four exams, and I even signed the attendance sheet. However, when the result came out, I saw that I had been marked absent in all of them. How is that even possible? And the strange part is, I am not the only one, so this cannot be seen as a mistake on the administration’s behalf. At least 10 per cent of the students from our department have been marked absent in at least one paper, even though they appeared for the exam. Students from other departments have also complained of this issue.”
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After several failed attempts at starting a dialogue with the university administration, the students took out a march last week, demanding that their issues be taken seriously. The students said that on the day of the march, they were locked inside the department building by the administration. The guards locked the gate to stop students from outside from entering the premises, in an attempt to curb the protests. The security guard allegedly assaulted and manhandled the students, and some students were injured while trying to enter the building.
The students have also accused the professors of the department of making sexist comments in the classroom. Several of the female students have stopped coming to the class because they feel uncomfortable in the presence of the professors. Swati said, “One professor casually said in a class that the boys should focus on their studies. The girls will find rich men to marry, hence they did not need to care about their grades.”
Even though the Vishakha guidelines make it compulsory for institutes to install a sexual harassment redressal mechanism, no efforts were made by the administration to put up an elected body to address such issues. Hence, the students are demanding that an elected Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) in every department to handle the cases of harassment.
Ravinder, a student of the mathematics department has been sitting on an indefinite hunger strike for four days, demanding that their issues be immediately addressed by the administration. The students of other departments of Delhi University have also extended their support to the protesters. Several student organisations, including Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), Democratic Students Union (DSU), Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch (BSCEM), and Law Students’ Initiative (LSI) have also extended their support to the movement.
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