CANCELLATION OF DU EXAMINATIONS

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 We are writing this letter to you to express our concerns over the system of online open book examinations being developed by the University. We believe that the University has always prioritized the needs and welfare of all its students, and considers policies to be effective only when they reach all the echelons of society. In uncertain times as today, we firmly believe that the university shall not let its third years suffer, given that their jobs and higher education is at stake at the moment.

       We collectively believe that unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and one such measure that we suggest vehemently is the cancellation of the exams for the final year students.

Problems with holding the exams- online or offline
We think that there are several issues with holding the exams for terminal year students. Some of these issues can be listed as follows:

Online teaching, whilst attempted by universities/teachers, has created a scenario wherein unequal access to the internet, laptops and online textbooks will lead to students who are more affluent and able-bodied being able to benefit, while good students who do not have access to these facilities are unfairly penalized. We cannot be satisfied with online classes till there is parity on access to all infrastructure and till teachers get adequately trained or adept at online pedagogy, lack of which has resulted in negligible learning outcomes. Since most students returned to their hometowns during the mid-semester break, they do not have access to the required readings, textbooks, or even course books. This puts students at a further disadvantage. 
At a point in time when the number of cases are on a rise, and trains being shut till 30th June, coming back by the 1st of July is a distant dream, leaving us to the option of Open Book Examinations.
We believe that in a highly stratified country like ours, class privilege is a reality that we cannot overlook. The implications of the same can have detrimental effects in the current scenario. At a point in time when a lot of students do not have smartphones, or laptops, we think that the online examination system shall be skewed in favour of those who have a room of their own, the privacy to write their examinations, and have continuous access to laptops/smartphones, electricity, and internet. Thus, a lot of final year students would not be able to write their exams as effectively as they would want to, and would be at a disadvantage. 
The pattern in itself raises a lot of doubts in the minds of the students.The pattern shall be skewed towards those who not only have abundant resources (in the form of an access to various journals, websites, books, and educated parents). The pattern in itself is something that students are not familiar with, and have never practiced before. For five semesters, the students have attempted 6 questions in three hours. By reducing the number of questions to 4, while the marks remain the same, and since they’re analytical in nature, one question gets half an hour. To consult the required books and sources (the access to which is questionable), and formulate and write an answer in half-hour, given that a majority of us have never attempted open book tests, let alone examinations, is a Herculean Task. 

2. Keeping the Examinations in July

We think that keeping the examinations in July also poses certain problems for us:

A number of students wish to pursue their master’s degree from countries like the USA, UK, etc. To obtain visa approval for the same, they shall require an unconditional offer from these universities. However, their semester starts in September. Even if admission periods are extended, students will have to defer their master’s degree by a year because they will not receive their examination results in time to complete the formality. 
Some students have already received placement offers, with their jobs primed to commence in the month of July/August and probation work starting a month before their joining. If examinations take place in July, their jobs and their security in an already economically testing time are put at further risk. 
In light of the aforementioned circumstances, we believe that it shall benefit everyone unanimously if the examinations are cancelled for the given academic year, and empathy is shown to the students caught in these troubling times.

OUR SUGGESTIONS

We understand that it is important to find a substitute for examinations. We hereby suggest the following alternatives:

In accordance with the UGC Report guidelines for the intermediate semester/year students, internal evaluation for the current academic year (2019-20) may constitute 50% of our marks, with the remainder 50% marks being derived from the students’ previous 5 batches of examinations.
Alternatively, following the 25-75 marks ratio followed by Delhi University, derivation of 25% marks from the Internal Assessment conducted in the current academic year (2019-20), and the rest 75% marks represented by an average of the theory examinations attempted by the students in previous semesters.
Since a majority of students put their best efforts in their final year, if deemed possible, a 10% increase in the average marks being derived from previous theory examinations can be granted to every student. This effort is to ensure that their GPA does not suffer and they can make up for the lost academic year/semester.
Most importantly, regardless of the measures taken for evaluation of final year students, any degree(s) awarded to final year students must necessarily display the fact that students underwent an interrupted final semester/year due to a global pandemic (COVID-19). This must be stated unequivocally to ensure grading parity of the academic batch of 2019-20 with academic batches of previous and following years.
Even after such assessment is granted, final year students should still have access to improvement examinations in the foreseeable future for their subjects, as is the case for regular provision of improvement examinations every odd and even semester. We wish to ensure equitable opportunity to those who would like to avail such a facility.
We firmly believe that university has the power to aid 3rd years effectively and justly and declare our results by streamlining existing systems, instead of making new systems suddenly retrospectively applicable on us, when all of us have already been thrown into a frenzy by the pandemic. 

We hope that the University and the concerned authorities would spare a thought for People with Disabilities, SC, ST, and OBC students, along with students in homes with restrictive and hostile parents and/or guardians and devise ways that are inclusive and do not leave the aforementioned behind.