Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the lives of millions to a standstill. While we have all focused on the plight of migrant workers and other underprivileged communities, one group of people's struggles have not been highlighted as much as it was needed -- students of our country.
Students of Apeejay Stya University, Gurugram, have accused the university of forcing them to pay the entire yearly fees while classes are only taking place online in the absence of the basic facilities.
"We have not been using any facility provided by the college except for our laptops and internet connection that we pay for. Many parents are going through severe financial crises due to the pandemic," Priya (name changed), 22, a final year student, tells The Logical Indian. "Why should we pay for the services we aren't using? Hostels have been vacated since March for the semester that ends in May. Will they refund our money for the months we paid for but did not stay? Making us pay laundry fees, transport fees, mess fees etc is absolutely unfair."
Priya says that repeated attempts to reach out to the authorities have been in vain.
"Several other students have sent them emails about the same issue. They never replied to anyone. In person, they clearly told us that they would not reply or comment on this issue," says Anita (name changed), 21, a third year student.
"We want the college to give at least 30-40% relaxation for this semester. They should also refund a part of the fee we paid for last semester because we attended only 2.5/6 months of physical college education. They have charged for full hostel fee, and full transportation fee too. We need a refund," she adds.
Nineteen-year-old Shruti (name changed), a third-year student, says that her parents' income has been drastically hit due to the pandemic.
"Repeated emails were written to the registrar authorities, to our department Dean. When we got no response, students started reaching out to teachers on official groups, and got no response there either," Shruti says.Sudip (name changed), a third-year student, says: "We are not using college's electricity, infrastructure, library, hostel, transport etc., and yet being forced to pay the entire fee. On what grounds? After our repeated emails were ignored, we asked the faculty on our official WhatsApp group why they aren't replying to our messages. To our disbelief, all the faculty left the group."
He adds: "Online learning classes are not a good alternative, although the situation right now demands it. We didn't entirely understand many topics that were taught."
Not just ASU, a number of colleges and universities are facing the same issue during a time that is already tough to get through. Educational institutions are supposed to encourage and empower students to study, especially during times such as these. On humanitarian and logical grounds, they should motivate students to move ahead.
Being ignorant of their circumstances and indifferent towards their troubles only add to the already heavy burden they are carrying. Educational institutions should serve as a safe haven for students, rather than becoming a barrier to their journey towards success.
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