DU’s fest season is the envy of most universities across the country, and yet, it has a harsh economic aspect to it which gets obscured in all the ‘fun’ and excitement.
Can you think of college fests in the University of Delhi (DU) as mega PR strategies in themselves?
Each one of them determines the college’s reputation. And if this economic perspective is applied, every decision taken to make a fest ‘grand’— students running from pillar to post to acquire sponsors within restricted deadlines, coming up with unique stalls, competing to invite the most high-profile celebrities — all cater to marketing a college’s name. Students must become entrepreneurs and ‘sell’ their fest to add to their college’s repute. It’s akin to saying that Nexus, Tarang, Mecca and others are brand names in themselves, as much as Venky (Sri Venkateswara College), LSR (Lady Shri Ram College) and Hindu (Hindu College).
Being a part of departmental associations and societies are all excellent means of keeping the co-curricular ‘alive’, alongside the academic. Some students do feel, in fact, that college-life should be a free playground in terms of experiences. “We all come to learn different things from college. Learning to speak to the sponsors or organising a fest is a part and parcel of it,” says Shivangi Bhasin, a second year student. On the other side of the spectrum, however, are students and teachers who feel that the increasing pressure to ‘perform’ in fests is taking away from the aura of the University. As ‘temples of education’, to borrow the often used metaphor, colleges should focus on improving the standards of teaching and learning and their infrastructures as well. Instead, thousands are spent every year on trivial decorations, merely to outdo other colleges.
DU’s fest season is notorious for making students miss classes due to practice or their various societies’ or associations’ meetings. Under the rigorous semester system and the fragmented syllabi scheme of CBCS, even the teachers struggle to keep pace. And yet, the fests must be grander and better than before. Their mandate never changes. As a result, friction arises. The students can neither fully concentrate on their course nor on the fests within the limited time frame of semesters. Also, those who don’t wish to engage into the entrepreneurial aspect of gathering sponsors or promoting the fest are systematically left out in this space. Even within their association, they become involuntarily ‘inactive’ — sometimes it isn’t even their choice. Following a capitalist philosophy then, the University is fast becoming a space of ‘brand names’ and quantity over quality for many. And it is, indeed, a worrying trend.
Image Credits: Shiksha.com