Several colleges of Delhi University (DU) have initiated steps to reduce fees, distribute electronic resources such as laptops and data packs to its students who are in need of support during the pandemic.
Following the reports which surfaced on 2nd November 2020, regarding the death by suicide of Aishwarya Reddy, a student of Mathematics (Hons.) at Lady Sri Ram College (LSR)- the last couple of weeks saw an uproar by students of Delhi University, protesting against the exclusivity of online education death.
After a series of boycotts and protests, college administrations seemed to have finally opened their eyes to the injustice being faced by the marginalized communities in accessing online education. LSR, Miranda House, Rajdhani College, and Aryabhatta College among others, have set up mechanisms to support their students. Lady Shri Ram College has constituted ‘LSR-RAHAT’, which is a program that offers faculty and peers support to students. With regards to this initiative, the LSR website says “Lady Shri Ram College for Women has ensured that faculty members of the college are available for the students of the college through this crisis period.” Along with this, the names of three faculty members and their contacts have also been provided.
According to Lady Shri Ram college Principal Suman Sharma, the college administration has also announced a reduction in fees for a few courses and has decided to set up a committee to provide laptops and tablets to students who are in need. Some second-year students have also been allowed to continue their stay at the hostel based on ‘need’.
“Given the fact that students are not able to avail certain facilities of the college due to being off-campus, the college has removed such charges from the fees this year. This has led to a substantial reduction in the fee. In addition, it is possible to pay the fee in instalments,”Suman Sharma, Principal at LSR, speaking to The Indian Express regarding fees reduction
The Principal of Miranda House, Bijaylaxmi Nanda said that the college would soon start distributing data packs for students who were unable to attend online classes due to insufficient data.
“We realized during the first month of lockdown only that just online classes will not be enough and equal attention will have to be paid to mental wellness. We took some steps but we will increase our efforts now and focus on one-on-one interactions,”Bijaylaxmi Nanda, Principal at Miranda House, speaking to The Indian Express.
Other colleges including Rajdhani College have also stepped up their efforts in making online education more inclusive. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Anand Prakash, chemistry teacher of Rajdhani College, said,
“We recently held a survey regarding access to study materials and problems arising in accessing online classes, and 70 per cent of the students said they are facing network issues and problems due to lack of laptops and smartphones. We thought the laptops lying unused in the colleges will be helpful for the financially weak students,”
Aishwarya Reddy, a B.Sc. Mathematics (Hons) student, was from Shadnagar of Ranga Reddy district in Telangana. On the morning of November 2nd, she was found hanging at her home by her family members and the police. According to her family, she left behind a purported suicide note where she addressed the seasons for ending her life. An IAS aspirant, she had come home from her hostel at the University of Delhi due to the Coronavirus-induced lockdown since march. As per the suicide note, this was one of the reasons she was depressed and had to commit suicide. The note also said: “No one is responsible for my death. I don’t want to become a burden on the family. I can’t live without studying, I was thinking about it and this [death] is the only way left for me.”
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives