Our Semester was Delayed (Again): Will Ashoka Break Out of this Pattern?
By Prithaa More and Sana Bashir, UG'24
On July 25th, 2022, a month before students were originally supposed to move back to campus for the Monsoon semester, the Registrar sent an email stating that the date for the start of the semester had been pushed back by a week. The email highlighted that classes for the semester will now commence on 5th September, 2022. This was followed by an email by the DSA stating how the dates for students to move in would be 1st and 2nd September, instead of the original 27th and 28th August. The Edict reached out to the administration to ask about this sudden shift and also released a survey to look into how this repetitive delay in communication was becoming a hindrance to students.
The Dean of Student Affairs (DSA) responded to the Edict’s queries by stating that the decision was made in line with UGC guidelines that were released because “of certain exams and their results being rescheduled which are critical to the admissions process.” When the Edict followed up asking why this was affecting the commencement of Ashoka’s academic year, considering that the university’s entire process is built on separating itself from board marks or that of any other central exam like the CUCET, we availed no response. In fact, the UGC guidelines the DSA mentions were actually made public by the 14th of July and CBSE had reached out to UGC as early as the end of June, giving the university ample time to inform students that there might be a shift in the academic calendar but there was no such notice. Further the DSA also said that the university could not compensate students who had booked their tickets and any other losses the students might face as this change was due to “external factors”. In a survey the Edict had released on the 31st of July gauging the student body’s experience with the delay in the monsoon semester, out of 68 respondents, 41.2% said they had already booked tickets- and many of these had only booked after confirming with the administration. Some of the students grievances stated:
“Lost 18,000 rupees due to rescheduling of flight tickets.”
“I am a student who travels from outside India to campus after every break. Rescheduling international flights has cost me 5,000 rupees this time and has already cost everyone heavily back in January when campus reopening was stalled. The Admin also denied me temporary accommodation.”
Students went on to say that this was becoming a pattern through the years, many having faced the same earlier in January this year. 38 of the survey respondents agreed that they understood it was difficult to predict such factors however would appreciate such drastic updates in time. Majority of the students agreed that better transparency and communication, including reasons for delay and prior notices would be helpful to prevent such instances again.
When asked why the senior batches were being called mid-week, four days before classes start, the DSA justified this decision by saying that the incoming batch would be moving in on the weekend and so the seniors were called earlier to ease the process of settling in for everybody. When further questioned about the clashing of Orientation Week (O-Week) with classes of the seniors and how the logistics for classes like Foundation Courses which are shared across cohorts or how Cohort Leadership programmes would work considering seniors are heavily involved in the same will be managed, the Edict received no response.
A majority of the students in the survey urged the administration to improve their channels of communication and give adequate warning, if not a formal notice, if a change is to be made in the academic calendar. The email sent to the student body gave no reason for delay making it very confusing for students, especially those who need to make travel arrangements. When The Edict tried to further bring this problem to the attention of the DSA, asking the university to have more responsiveness and better clarity in their communication, we didn't receive a response to their follow up communication.
As the student body starts a new year at Ashoka very soon, one can only hope that the administration will also work at starting anew regarding their functioning and transparency in student communication.
Disclaimer- The Edict received no response to some of the questions mentioned till the time of publishing this article.