No help is small help in scorching heat

No help is small help in scorching heat

Student volunteers guide admission-seekers, give water and refreshments

No help is small help in scorching heat

In this harsh Delhi summer amid the push-and-shove rush for admissions in DU colleges, any kind of help is much appreciated by aspirants. This is where help desks run by students and student unions step in.

This year, apart from Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) setting up help desks at all admission centres, BJP’s youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has also installed help desks and a helpline as well.

A separate desk was set up for students coming from north-eastern states.
“When admissions were decentralised, students had to go to each college to fill forms. Usually, third-year students used to volunteer and help around. At the time of admissions, Delhi’s temperature is soaring, and we make sure that water is available in the vicinity,” says a researcher involved in voluntary work during decentralized admissions.

“We either put up posters directing people towards water coolers, or distribute disposable water packets. Since it is vacation time, we used to make sure that the water coolers are filled,” adds the volunteer.

DU has set up 18 admission centres in various parts of the city this year, and student unions have set up help desks in each one of them.

“Last year, there was a cooler and a water dispenser near the help desks in major centres. This year, the varsity did not provide us that despite repeated requests. With rising temperature and a new environment for students, sometimes we have to deal with panic attacks,” says a member of ABVP.

“Most senior students are asked to sit at help desks. The new graduation format has also left many confused. We got repeated queries regarding new courses, scrapping of old Honours degree and the newly designed BTech courses, which also contain Humanities courses,” says the ABVP member.

According to volunteers at a DUSU help desk, knowledge about basic medical assistance is given to DUSU members. “Last year, a girl had fainted in this heat. Several other students also complained of heat stroke. We took them to the medical assistance centre set up by the varsity,” says a DUSU member.

“Sometimes, just out of pressure, students start crying if they have made a mistake on the form. After standing for a couple of hours in this heat, they were able to buy the form. Now with the mistake in filling the form, many don’t want to take a chance to correct it and have to come the next day to buy another one. The pressure increases on the last day,” adds a DUSU member.

A majority of volunteers keep a copy of the form (online and offline) to understand its contents and guide others.

“Apart from form-related queries, aspirants keep asking us if they will be able to get through, especially the 80 percenters or those who have scored lesser. We tell them to apply in the School of Open Learning too. Considering the rising cut-offs, aspirants come and talk to us about being dejected and discouraged. If we sense that the aspirant, despite our assurances, is still upset or crying, we try to put him or her through an official making rounds or a faculty member,” says a volunteer.

Volunteers at a help desk for students from north-eastern states say that aspirants usually complain about language barrier.

“When they try to go meet an official regarding some admission related issue, there are times when the officials do not understand their language entirely. Some understand and are compassionate, while others don’t treat them well at all. Sometimes, women complain about being stared at and of eve teasing. The university needs to make its stand on such issues loud and clear by putting up posters,” says a help desk volunteer.