The administration of the University of Delhi (DU) has announced that the course paper on Environmental Studies (EVS) will no longer be compulsory in the syllabi for undergraduate courses.

Due to continual protests, and with the subject recording least attendance out of any class for undergraduate courses, Professor Yogesh Tyagi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Delhi, in accordance with the Academic Council, has declared that EVS will no longer be a compulsory paper for undergraduate courses.

The changes in syllabi will be imposed from the 16th of August, 2019. A press release stated that the decision is being undertaken for the welfare of the students, in an attempt to mitigate the stress of the remaining core papers. The release also states that the administration understands the plight that the faculty of Environmental Studies may face due to this decision. However, the decision was taken by keeping in the mind the welfare of the students of the university’s undergraduate programs.

Though the varsity’s action is aimed towards making the syllabi more interesting and engaging for the students, the faculty of Environmental Studies is less than happy with the decision. Professor Vinod Thakur, from the department of EVS at Hindu College, says, “This is an absolute slap in the face. Not only is the administration using it as an excuse to lessen the number of faculty in our department as a ploy to battle budget cuts, it is also ridding the syllabi of an integral paper in a course.” Another professor from Miranda College said that it is thinly veiled propaganda by climate change deniers in the current Academic Council.

Students everywhere are celebrating the decision. Maitryee Ayyer, a B.A. (Hons.) Economics student from Daulat Ram College stated: “This decision is honestly godsend. EVS was my least favourite lecture to attend, and I struggled to meet my minimum attendance criteria each semester. I’m so happy that we’re finally rid of it.” However, not all students are behind the decision. A student from Lady Sri Ram College says, “I’m glad that the decision was introduced as a way to lessen the burden on students during exam season, but the university’s decision of taking such a drastic step to remove a paper that had been a part of the syllabus for years, and to use it as an excuse to introduce budget cuts in faculty is something I just can’t get behind.”

So far, the decision has been unanimously accepted by the student unions’ of various colleges like Hansraj, Kirori Mal, Hindu, Miranda, Ramjas etc. A union member at Kirori Mal said, ”Students have always complained about the compulsory attendance for EVS classes; now that it has been removed for good, the student union can all finally move on to more important issues.”

DU Beat tried contacting Assistant Professors Dr Chirashri Ghosh and Dr Abduul Jamil Urfy of the Department of Environmental Studies, but they were unavailable to comment.

Despite criticism, this decision shows that the University is taking measures to make its syllabi more engaging and acceptable to students.

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Shreya Juyal

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