Respect our existence or expect our resistance.
There is no doubt that covid has affected every section of the society adversely not leaving the students. With the opening of the college in the mid of February and accepting the new normal became quite exhausting for the students of Vssut. From midsems to lab exams to hectic schedule of the end semester examination not only had a severe impact on the mental health but exhaustion to fit oneself into the academic activities.
The students had already gone through a shutdown of 15 days in the month of March for the detection of 25 positive students in the hostel.
With daily detection of Covid cases in the campus made the students hesitant to continue their stay in the hostels and write offline examination. After several formal meetings and discussion with authorities and negligence towards the covid positive students, the students finally decided to raise their voice by going for a silent protest while abiding all the covid precautions
It is said “When injustice becomes Law,Resistance becomes a duty.”
The VSSUT strike 2021 was a successful resistance to protect the students from the covid situation and conduction of examinations in favorable and safe conditions. The strike was observed with the demand to conduct online end semester examination and to let the students go home due the rise of the COVID cases in and around the college campus.
The strike commenced on the 15th hour of 10th April 2021. All the students from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year masked up and assembled near the university premises under the scorching sun, determined to stand against the insensitive decisions of the university administration to keep the college open and conduct for offline examinations. As our country saw a steep increase in COVID cases, touching one lakh positive reports, just a week before, 78 new cases in Sambalpur district just in 24 hours just the day before the strike, students were diverted by the sessionals in scribbling the practical records and preparing for the incessant Viva-Voces, all of this in a short interval of time. Yet the diversions were averted and all the pupils unified for the better cause.
Many students who had been tested positive, were kept in isolation at the Angira Hall of Residence. The rest who had COVID symptoms and went for a test to VIMSAR, were denied one, and were told to return. The covid cases were first identified in the boys hostel and in no time it did show its effect in the girls hostel as well. Some of the residents of the girl’s hostel were also found to be Covid positive. With all these circumstances happening around, conduction of examinations would have been unbearable
Thus, students came out, maintaining proper social distance and wearing masks, determined to observe the strike until their pleas were heard by the officials and necessary actions were taken. As the slogans and crycalls intensified the protest gained more attention. Several authorities of the college including the Dean Academics Affairs, Vice chancellor and Hods of several branches came to the college campus to bring out a solution to the protest. It was proposed that all the students may go back to their homes for a few days and come back to give an offline examination of both semesters collaboratively, which was unacceptable to every student. Considering the vast nature of the syllabus of two semesters and also there was no surety of the condition of the pandemic in the future. It would’ve been difficult especially for students living in far off places to keep travelling to and fro and then sitting for exams again. Also, as all theory classes had been conducted in the online mode, the theoretical understanding of the concepts was shallow.
Students continued to protest after the authorities departed without any concluding agreement. When none budged from their position, even the girls whose in-time for hostel had been crossed, the District Magistrate, accompanied by a platoon of police force, came over to inspect and discuss the matter of concern with the students at around 7:00 pm.
Then at last, around 9:00 pm, The Vice Chancellor and the Dean, Academic Affairs, along with the other authorities, had a final discussion with the students and came to the conclusion that the exams for the odd semesters and backlogs of the respective semesters would be conducted in online mode for those who felt safer to go home, with the condition that they should vacate the hostel immediately. The rest, could appear the exam in offline mode, for those who wished to stay back and appear the exams in the college campus.
After six long hours of integrated efforts of students, their unending endurance, a fruitful result was obtained for the goodwill and welfare of all students. After all the university stands strong, owing to the existence of students and not the reverse.