Students believe this is due to panic over doomsday prediction; authorities claim teachers have been sent for evaluation

With many city colleges advancing the Christmas break by two days, students believe that it could be due to the widespread idea of the world coming to an end on Friday. However, college officials claim the step was taken as teachers would be occupied with paper evaluation.

Radhika Ponnarassan, a student of Nazareth College of Arts, said, “Our holidays were supposed to begin on Saturday. But they announced they are beginning today.” Many other colleges in the city did the same on Thursday. The students have been asked to start attending classes from January 2.

“Mostly, Christmas holidays commence from December 23 but it was recently decided to send all teachers for evaluation. Since classes will be without teachers, we thought it is best to advance the break,” said an official from Presidency College.

Many colleges under the University of Madras say it was due to instructions from the directorate of collegiate education that they had announced the advanced break.

“Since it was done fast, we could not communicate to the students that it was for evaluation,” said a professor.

Many students, however, believe colleges announced the leave sensing the panic.

“Why did they suddenly decide to advance the vacation?” asked Arun Thomas, a student of an Arts college in Royapettah.

“We saw the videos where Russians were hoarding food and water because we are going to be sucked into a black hole. It is not much panic, but that is the only thing being discussed,” he added.

“The students have been given leave because teachers are going for evaluation of papers. But there was so much unrest among students regarding the doomsday thing, that it is better the break was advanced,” said an official of Mar Gregorius College.

A senior professor at Loyola College said announcements were made in all classes and church sessions urging students not to panic. “Many extremist groups have been spreading this idea and sadly, many people are falling prey to them,” he said.

Ganesh Veluswamy, president, Chennai Freethinkers, says colleges should have acted more responsibly and evaded any doubts in students’ minds.

“Mayans were people who believed in spirits and sacrifices. They did not have the understanding that is prevalent today. This should have been an opportunity for students and colleges to test what is the level of their open-minded scepticism but most choose to believe floating claims at face value.”

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