Like any new broom, the new vice chancellor at the Visva Bharati University is trying his best to sweep clean. So there’s talk of more discipline, changing class timings, transfers and, of course, more construction. Needless to say, all this has attracted protests, some loud and some feeble. Amidst all the complaints, however, there is one professor who is all for the new set of disciplinary measures. But it’s difficult to gauge whether she is ideologically tuned to a stricter regime or her current frustration with students have led her to temporarily believe in its merit.
The university had planned on holding the second and fourth semester exams between April 16 and May 15 this year. And the professor in question had been appointed with the task of chalking out the exam schedule for her department. Before she could even think of starting with the task, she began to be visited by a flock of students. A few of them had come to request her to schedule their papers towards the end of the exam dates since many professors, they claimed, were yet to finish the syllabus.
Some more requests followed of course. By the end of it, she found herself dealing with a list of preconditions. Exams could only be scheduled in such a way that students get a day of rest between two exams; and no exam could be scheduled on any of the holidays. So May 1, Buddha Purnima and Tagore’s birthday were out of bounds.
To top it all, Visva Bharati’s convocation to honour its graduates and post-graduates is scheduled on May 27. And though the prime minister, who is also the chancellor of the university, has intimated his inability to attend the function, the university administration has told all the departments to not to schedule any exams on the 26th and the 28th: they would be busy with the mantling and dismantling of convocation arrangements.
As the professor was coming up with various permutations of exam dates, she was visited by another student who wanted her set of papers to finish by May 11 since her father, she said, had already booked tickets for their summer holiday. “But why did you book tickets without knowing your exam dates?” asked the professor. To which the student replied she had no choice because her father’s leave availability dictated their annual trip.
Then came another request from another student whose wedding date had apparently been fixed. She and her parents requested the professor not to schedule any of her exams on the day of her marriage!
Despite all this, the good news is that this genius of a professor did manage to set the exam schedule. The only two requests that proved really difficult were the last two. The student who was getting married won in the toss-up. Not because the professor thought that marriage was a more momentous occasion than a vacation, but because the professor was unmarried herself. Surely if she would have chosen to ignore a request coming from the bride’s father, it would have been invariably attributed to her unmarried status. “You know how they would have twisted the whole thing into how spinsters can’t bear to see anyone else getting married,” she sighed. You can’t blame her for wanting the University to instil a little more fear in students now, can you?