Delhi University question paper sparks fears of privacy and bias

Students said this is problematic because in March, some of them had protested against the Chemistry department head Ramesh Chandra, after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him by a teacher as well as students.

Written by Shradha Chettri | New Delhi | Updated: May 16, 2018 3:41:56 am
Delhi University question paper sparks fears of privacy and bias Students had protested in March this year (File)

A 10-mark question in the semester-end exams at Delhi University’s Chemistry department has students alleging discrimination and breach of secrecy. Students studying in the final semester of the Masters’ degree were asked to write about the presentation assigned to each of them in class. Each student worked on a separate topic, and was marked on it during the internal assessment.

Students said this is problematic because in March, some of them had protested against the Chemistry department head Ramesh Chandra, after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him by a teacher as well as students.

According to students, if they reveal their internal assessment project, they will no longer remain anonymous, and Chandra will have the option of marking them unfairly. The contentious question in the Inorganic Chemistry paper of the IV semester states: “Write a brief note about the presentation assigned to you in class.”

A total of 118 MSc students had written to the Dean examination on April 3, asking him to bar Chandra and a few other teachers from evaluating their papers, for the fear of being treated unfairly. The concerns were not addressed and the exam was held on May 9.

“We have already been threatened once — that we will be failed for protesting. Now this question intends to victimise us, when we are in the last year of our masters’ degree. We had written to the examination department but nothing happened,” alleged a student who did not wish to be named.

That the answer sheets at the Masters’ level are evaluated within the department also has students worried. As per policy, identifiable aspects such as name and internally assigned roll number are removed from answer sheets before they are sent for evaluation. The university Ordinance X A 1d (viii) states that “deliberately disclosing one’s identity or making any distinctive mark in the answer book for that purpose” is not permitted.

Chandra, however, said the university does not intend to identify any student. “Questions are set by teachers in the department and evaluated by them, so writing about the project is not going to cost students anything. They protested against the issue but that issue is over. Why would I want to identify them? Everything is done as per merit and a select few are politicising the issue,” said Chandra.

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