Famed for its performing societies and star alumni, does the University’s ecosystem encourages the growth of co-curricular activities?
If there’s anything that the University of Delhi is famous for besides its headlines-grabbing cut-off percentages each year, it’s the star alumni. Apart from politicians, some of the country’s top artists are also DU graduates, partly stemming from the fact that Delhi in itself is a city that promotes such fields with its various cultural centres that regularly hold performances and workshops by experts.
At the college level, however, the stepping stone for the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan is the college societies. Upon closer inspection, though, it becomes obvious that enough is not being done to facilitate their workings. Right from the inception stage, it is difficult to find out about the formalities required to start a society. The presence of a faculty advisor is also a condition and it takes a lot of hassle to find a convenor because most of the teachers are already under a lot of workloads, having no incentive to take on additional responsibility. Further, the music, dance, and theatre societies require spaces for their daily practices. In institutions like Jesus and Mary College and Hans Raj College, it’s cumbersome to book the Auditorium for practices as obtaining the administrative permission takes a lot of time, which leaves students without proper practice spaces. Colleges like Miranda House, Kirori Mal College, and Sri Venkateswara College do not have proper auditoriums currently, which results in finding nooks and corners of the college for practices. This becomes tiring, and due to no allotted space for each society, societies secure spaces on a first come first serve basis, leaving other groups in a lurch. As performances and competitions’ season nears, these colleges have a disadvantage since necessary rehearsals are unable to take place.
A good portion of the already meagre society funds has to be devoted to booking external auditoriums during the fests’ season as well. Lack of funds is usually cited as the reason for the delays in construction and repair work, but recurring stories of the collapse of unused funds amounting to crores contradicts that claim. Finally, the members of these societies themselves are often not treated well by the faculty and administration. Professors are often unwilling to co-operate regarding rescheduling of the internals on account of performance events that the members have to attend – which is representative of the disinterested attitude of the University as a whole.
There are a few efforts being made. Miranda House, for one, has developed an app that lets societies book spaces online, cutting scope for bureaucratic work. Such efforts, however, are very rare and should be the norm instead of an exception. On the whole, a very sorry state of affairs exists and it’s quite saddening to see that basic facilities are unavailable in the country’s premier liberal arts colleges due to administrative roadblocks, sitting on funds, and an ironically uncaring attitude in the world beyond academics.
Image credits: DU Beat