Author: Kanessha Rama Krishnan
Editor: Vijayabalan Krishnan
BANGI, 26 May- Students of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) feel even more isolated than ever as those who came back to UKM during its third phase of students returning to the university have completed their 10-day quarantine period would have to further isolate themselves to ensure the safety of students within UKM’s premises.
Students coming back to UKM during this period mainly consist of students who have needs of using the laboratories, studios as well as other facilities provided by the university to fulfill the requirements of their respective courses as well as further facilitate their learning online. Though their purpose of returning to UKM has strictly been business, students cannot help but feel empty as they are advised against most forms of social interaction as well as restricting its students from leaving its premises.
Head of the Student Executive Council in the Kolej Rahim Kajai residential college in UKM, Amirul Haqim bin Khairul Anwar has been in Kolej Rahim Kajai for the past few months, observing and facilitating students returning to their residential colleges from the first phase of students returning to campus. ‘It has indeed been a challenging time for me as well as everyone living without meeting each other, especially when most students come with the expectations of meeting their friends and being together like the pandemic had not happened’. Though challenging, Amirul Haqim has reiterated that it is crucial for students to adhere to the SOPs set by the Malaysian Security Council, Ministry of Health as well as the university and also reduce visits to and from other residential colleges due to the worrying increase of cases close to the university.
The prolonged periods of solitude has been making students feel demotivated to attend classes as they are left with themselves, unlike when they were at home with their family members. ‘I at least had my family to be with, while I was attending online classes at home’, said by Pavithran Batumalai, a Master’s degree student in Geology as he expresses his frustration on the prolonged periods of isolation while as the restricted social interaction has left him and many others less motivated to participate in online classes and to live their lives within the confines of their rooms, in their respective residential colleges without leaving the university except for emergencies.
‘Life after isolation feels the same way even after the quarantine’, said Vinisha Shanmugam , a Year 2 Actuarial Science student. It seems to be a recurring problem that more and more students feel this way as feeling lonely might affect ones’ performance in their studies, which is the main reason for their returning back to UKM.
When asked for their coping mechanism to get themselves through the lonely period of abiding by UKM’s instructions to reduce social interactions, Pavithran has shared that he has used this time to focus on working on new skills such as editing skills and a lot more.
To get students through this challenging period of socially isolating themselves, they can make the most of the situation. One way would be to use solitude to further enrich themselves with more information and skills. Another would be to fully utilize the social platforms designed to connect friends and loved ones from far apart to reduce the lack of human connection among students while abiding by the SOPs set in place by the Malaysian Security Council (MKN).