‘Bikeathon’ held to highlight academic, other issues at universities

20 Nov 2018

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SOME of the participants in the event.—Photo by writer
SOME of the participants in the event.—Photo by writer

KARACHI: Some 225 cyclists, including various university students, faculty members, civil activists and citizens belonging to the cycling group Critical Mass, were seen putting the pedal to the metal on and around University Road early on Sunday morning during a ‘bikeathon’ arranged by the Aga Khan University (AKU) to urge all universities to give student experience reforms a boost.

The bike ride which also kicked of the country’s first-ever congress of student experience titled ‘Parwaaz’, saw the mass of cyclists, most of them in yellow T-shirts, on a route that started at AKU and passed by the Karachi School of Business and Leadership, Liaquat National Medical College and College of Nursing and Bahria University. On the way they also stopped thrice to deliver speeches through megaphones about teaching and learning, campus life and gender equity.

One student spoke about why anyone did not ask him and his fellow students what and how they wanted to learn. Talking about campus life, another spoke about how academic and non-academic activities at universities could be redesigned to encourage students to develop all aspects of their personality. Talking on the subject of gender equity, one young lady questioned why there was disparity in the number of women in leadership positions in higher education and why so few female students pursued careers in mathematics and science? Basically, they were asking universities to shift gears on how they think about student life.

“This bikeathon is about us riding for our futures,” said one of the organisers of the event, Haider Saleem, a final-year medical student at AKU.

“Besides raising our voices on these key issues, we are also calling out to other students across Pakistan to drive change by engaging with those who shape their university life. The idea is also to start talking about how important life outside the class is,” said Dr Ayesha Mian, dean of students at AKU.

Humayun Qureshi, one of the older riders representing Critical Mass, said he was in it for the fun. “I enjoy my early morning rides. I have also bicycled in various cities too,” he said. Asked which city he enjoyed cycling in, the gentleman smiled. “Cycling is a very different experience,” he pointed out. “So when you are on a bike you have the time to see and appreciate all the things and people that fall in your route. You also get to enjoy the scenic beauty around you so you like all places and all cities,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018