‘There is finally light at the end of the tunnel’
While our community, nation and indeed the world at large have experienced devastating losses in the wake of the global pandemic, we are ready to look ahead to a time when life begins to feel normal again
With another Monsoon semester and an academic year knocking at the door, we are approaching the two-and-a-half-year mark since the coronavirus first affected our operations here at Ashoka University. The impact this pandemic has had on all of our lives is truly profound.
While our community, nation and indeed the world at large have experienced devastating losses, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. As I write this, most of us are fully vaccinated and back to a thriving campus, and more importantly ready to look ahead to a time when life begins to feel normal again.
We continue to be buoyed by the resilience and optimism of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and founders and recognize there are silver linings even in these challenging times. Working and learning from home had allowed many of us to spend more time with loved ones, and to find new ways to connect with those outside of our households.
As a university, we have also learned a great deal from this experience. Alternative course delivery methods have become mainstream and will allow greater flexibility for faculty and students alike in the future. I want to thank the faculty and staff for the heroic work that has enabled Ashoka University to continue bringing a liberal arts education to students during a time of national emergency. Despite a health crisis that has upended our lives, they have worked tirelessly mastering new technologies, adapting or creating new syllabi, and maintaining our reputation as a true leader in the field of higher education.
To be honest many of us who worked on the ground were understandably nervous and worried as our lives were being impacted in unsettling ways. But the past two years have demonstrated that we are also caring and thoughtful. The institution went above and beyond in financially supporting the students belonging to the underprivileged backgrounds during the two years, be it their travel expenses, data charges or test costs.
While a limited number of students were allowed to continue their academics from campus through the first wave, others with exceptional circumstances were allowed to return back over the subsequent months on a priority basis when the government restrictions were eased.
The University established an Isolation & Quarantine Centre (IQC) to effectively monitor and manage the spread of the virus on campus. The services of this facility, including regular meals for anyone in isolation, were available to all members of the Ashoka community.
We also facilitated the vaccination of all those on campus including support staff to safeguard ourselves while also partaking in the larger efforts to combat the spread of the virus.
These efforts among many others illustrate how committed people are to taking care of each other and our communities. In that light, I will encourage each of us to continue to focus on what we can do to support our families, students, colleagues, and the communities we live in rather than becoming frozen by the prospect of what we cannot do.
I thank you in advance for all that all of you at Ashoka University will do to make our collective efforts viable.
(Deboshruti Roychowdhury was the Dean of Student Affairs at Ashoka University, looking after the offices of Student Life, Residential Life, Sports, and the Centre for Wellbeing)