Ban on campus politics, introduction of internal assessments: These two new rules are changing life on college campuses across the State. Neena Nair asks students and teachers how they feel about it
Campus life across the world depicts a special kind of energy that is unseen elsewhere. But has campus life changed over the years like every other thing? In Kerala, too college life has changed. Recalls Jani Jose, an alumnus of St. Paul's College, Kalamassery, "Politics was big those days. I was a part of the KSU. I remember the strikes, violence and class disruption that happened every other day. Today when I walk into the campus, I see this unbelievable change! It's a like a school now. The recent ban on politics in campus seems to have worked wonders", she chuckles. Recently a High Court order gave educational institutions the right to prohibit political activities on the campus. Despite the initial protests, a majority of people are now happy with this arrangement."There are no political activities, no party-based elections, no union chairman or officials and no loss of academic days in Sacred Heart College anymore", declares a beaming Prof. P. M. Sebastian, Head of the English department. "We are happy and so are the students", he reiterates. Says Liz, a final year B.Com student from Sacred Heart College, "When I joined college, strikes were going on which disrupted classes . The ban was imposed right after that. Now the campus is peaceful and I feel the college is so much better off without politics."The ban on politics on campus and the subsequent order that now prevails has finally attracted multi-national companies to St. Albert College for recruitments. "The students have finally given up their political passions and have become academically oriented", says the Principal, Prof. Leslie Pallath.Nonetheless, Deepu, a final year B.A English student of St. Albert's has mixed opinions. "Personally I feel politics should be a part of college life, especially because we are all voters living in a democratic country. But I have to agree that politics is conducted so poorly that it ends up hampering regular academic sessions. In a situation where the impact of politics is more negative that positive, a ban has become inevitable."St. Teresa's College has never been politically active. Confides Prathiya, a final year Communicative English student, "We don't need a political campus to voice our problems. We are grouped under various lecturers who act as our mentors and help us with our personal and academic problems."However, not all are of the same opinion. Prof. Augustine Thomas, Principal, Maharaja's College is a believer in campus politics. "I welcome a politicised campus", he emphasises. "It helps students to voice their opinions. There should be no restriction on their freedom of expression and speech." When asked about the problems that politics is likely to create on campus, he argues, "Problems arise everywhere. We need to find solutions tactfully."Jibi Prasad, first year Islamic History student of Maharaja's is a hardcore SFI activist. He points out, "The campus is most likely to get divided into various sects based on caste, religion or social status. A political campus ensures that such groups do not take shape. Political groups also help tackle issues like ragging and drug peddling." He is backed by his friend Shiju, a second year B.A History student, who is also the SFI Union Secretary. Shiju speaks out with conviction on a host of subjects such as quality of education, equality of students on campus, merit-based selection into institutions, and adds that active involvement in campus politics is sure to pave the way to success. With barely any internal conflicts and hardly ever an outward display of discord most educational institutions are playing the game their own way. Well, it doesn't look like anyone's complaining. Like the ban on politics, the introduction of internal assessment too has led to several changes on the campus scene. Andthough internal assessment system helps teachers closely observe and grade their pupils, in the current scenario the system has been twisted out of context in the race to top the mark lists, feel some. It has in fact become a blessing in disguise for less than average performers.Prof. P M Sebastian says, "The system of internal evaluation is not well-organised. The disparity between internal and external marks is highly pronounced. In a subject like English the scope for improvement is immense. Therefore, one can never possibly award full marks to a student. However, in the effort to play fair with the system, our students are likely to be left behind in comparison to students of other colleges."The Principal, St. Albert College agrees that though the system is favourable, it has to be conducted more diligently. "It is likely that students will pass their examinations in flying colours but it is hard to predict what quality they would display in the job market." A lecturer in the department of Commerce, Sacred Heart College, M. M. Dominic strongly believes that the internal evaluation method should be scrapped if there is no authority that could regulate its functioning. "A student just manages to scrape through the external examinations, but scores full points in the internal assessment! Isn't that proof enough of this system being a failure?" he questions. Apart from seminars, assignments and tests, this mode of evaluation includes marks for class attendance. Most colleges expect a minimum of 75 per cent attendance from a student, failing which; he or she is not permitted to appear for examination. Aimed at improving discipline within college and sufficient student participation in classes, this rule seems to have hit the nail on the head. Liz from Sacred Heart says, "For some of us who are preparing for Entrance Exams, this system is inconvenient. We are forced to attend college even when there are no activities planned for the day." Comments Tarun, a third year B.Com student from St. Albert, "Students can always find their way around new rules and regulations. However, it cannot be denied that there is a marked improvement in discipline on campus and we have become more regular with our classes", he added with a smile. So the two newly introduced rules in colleges have had their own repercussions, some good, some bad, but none without an impact.