Nursing a High Time
With half a semester having flown by, there are several important issues that needed to be addressed. In order to shed light on some them, Team MM met with Chief Warden, Prof S. K. Patel on a Friday Morning and tried to reach common ground by reasoning with him.
MM: The dog menace on campus continues to rise. The last time the municipality had been contacted, they were caught up in their work with a veterinary hospital. What is the latest update on this front?
SKP: We have enquired time and again but their work in that veterinary hospital is not done, yet. After the Durga Puja vacations, a new officer will take charge and then we can expect them to resume their work on our campus. Also, under their jurisdiction, they have many places to take care of and NIT is only one among them. Meanwhile, what we can do is, we should avoid throwing waste food openly which is the main attraction for these strays.
We have already taken control over hostels where the movement of dogs was more prominent, namely in DBA Hall of Residence, by putting a wire mesh at all the entry points of the Hall. Also, we attached hydraulic-automatic door closers at the cycle stand gates between MSS and DBA Halls of Residence.
In other halls, I haven’t received any complaints regarding the dogs creating menace. I was particularly distressed, however when I got to know about a girl from CVR Hall of Residence, who used to regularly feed a dog. We spoke to her and she said she would comply, but I would once again like to strictly advise all students from feeding stray dogs, in order to end this menace and control the problem at hand.
MM: There has been a threatening rise in the sighting of snakes in the campus especially in the hostel areas over the past one month. What is being done to control the situation?
SKP: Whenever we have received complaints from any Hall, we have addressed the problem, immediately. There have been instances of such sightings in MV and KMS, after which people have gone and cleaned the area to ensure these reptiles do not get a safe haven. In KMS the place did not have proper lighting and now three halogen lamps have been installed to ensure maximum illumination. In addition, we supervise the spraying of carbolic acid wherever it is required; we only need an official report or complaint from the HEC of the respective Hall. Recently, a snake had been found in the shoe stands of CVR, and this problem is exclusive to them since no other hall has shoe stands. The matter has been taken care of at the hall level, but if they require any further assistance, they can certainly get in touch with us.
MM: There was a mail by the CW requesting us to arrange for power backups during exams since the institute’s back up was not functional. Could you shed some light on this matter?
SKP:Earlier, power back up was provided to the hostel area by a Diesel Generator. However, over time it wasn’t able to cater to the needs of all the halls and there was a specific system in place to ensure judicious sharing. Even before I took up office, sometime last year, the Departments of Biomedical, Chemical, and Ceramic Engineering approached the erstwhile director, Prof. S. K. Sarangi requesting for a 24/7 power back, in order to ensure the maintenance of some recently purchased, expensive equipment that they had acquired. This year, I tried speaking to the authorities about diverting the backup to the hall area at least during the exams, so that students would not be inconvenienced, but they explained that the process was no longer as simple as it used to be and the engineer-in-charge had coded the supply to automatically start itself, as opposed to the earlier norm making the change in lines permanent.
So, unless we can purchase a new Generator, we can’t expect power back up for the halls. The HMC is already running on a very tight budget, and such purchases are usually made at the institute level. Thus, we are completely reliant on the MHRD funds for this and I cannot be certain about when this problem will be solved.
MM: What is the schedule for whitewashing the hostel rooms? Boarders from VS and KMS Hall of Residence had been asked to vacate their rooms during the summer vacations, but their rooms were not whitewashed.
SKP: There is no fixed rule to whitewash the rooms, annually. Usually, the HEC of the respective hall sends us a requisition for getting certain rooms whitewashed and then we schedule for the work depending on holidays. If we are getting complaints from the boarders that even after having their rooms vacated during summer, they have not been whitewashed, I’ll definitely look into this matter and get back to you.
MM: Apart from the general spraying of insecticides that is done every Sunday, is there any other measure we can take to curb the sharp increase in insects and mosquitoes?
SKP: The fogging operations are carried out to curb the mosquitoes only. However, if the boarders want to use mosquito repellents as an additional measure to keep a check, they’ll have to do so in their own rooms. Besides, the mosquito repellents available in stores generally, will not be effective in large open areas, anyway.
I was thinking of reducing the fogging operation to once in two weeks because it costs us INR 15600 every time. I personally do not even think that this is very effective, therefore I would like students to explore whatever alternative solutions they can come up with, in order to tackle this problem, effectively. Till then, the fogging operation will continue as usual.
MM suggestion: For better cost management, the rate at which these actions are carried out can be increased during peak times, such as the rainy season and reduced at other times of the year.
MM: Students from KMS have raised concerns about being disallowed from walking and sitting in various areas of the campus during the evening at around 7-30 PM. Is there any reason for the imposition of such a rule?
SKP: The KMS Warden brought this matter to my notice and she said that she was not allowing it because it is not aesthetic and does not look nice. However, in my opinion, they certainly should be allowed to because otherwise, they have a tendency to wander towards adjoining areas, including the professors’ quarters which even more problematic. Maybe the warden is of such an opinion because those culverts are not really benches, and they’re right in front of the hostel, so it doesn’t look decent.
I think Monday Morning should interview the KMS warden and get her statement on why it has been disallowed. I will talk to her about this as well. However, if I had to justify her opinion on this, I’d say that once you sit down and start talking you end up gossiping for hours, wasting precious time during the evening which can be utilized to study.
This is analogous to a scenario where when you invite a male friend to your house, your parents ask you to sit outside and talk but get irked if you spend too much time doing so. In this case, the warden is like your parent and thus she wants her boarders to be protected. Anyway, students get a lot of time during the whole day, when they have classes together to speak to each other. But since the students feel that this is a problem, I will try and speak to her again.
MM: As per the previous rules, while Prof. S. K. Sarangi was the director, students were allowed to drink or smoke in their rooms, as long as they were not causing any public nuisance. However, this semester the HMC has banned liquor and smoking in the hostels. What triggered such a drastic change in policies?
SKP : We want to inculcate good habits among our students. And definitely one can say that drinking and smoking are bad for health. We have tried advising people, but our words most likely fall on deaf ears – so we have decided to take action against those who disregard this advice. It has been seen that most students indulging in indisciplinary activities shirk off their responsibilities by saying that they were inebriated or not completely in their senses.
Besides, if people are busy drinking then how will they continue with their curricular and extra-curricular activities. Thus it has been decided that we want out to root out this problem from its very cause.
MM Suggestion: Given that all these students are above the legal age, and are allowed to drink under the jurisdiction of the law, they should be allowed to do so in the privacy of their rooms. If they do so in public, or inconvenience anybody else they should be penalized for their actions, without any excuse.
SKP: Please note, that your allotted room is not your house. Even if you take rent somewhere, your tenant imposes certain restrictions on you and you have to abide by them. We want our students to devote their time constructively, rather than destructively.
If you want to go drink or smoke, you are free to go to any bar or restaurant and do so. But if you are caught doing so in the hostel premises, you will have to face the consequences.
We are taking these steps to ensure a proper ambience that will help students achieve their full potential.
MM Suggestion: If the authorities truly want to help students, then they should advise them through guidelines and help them seek out counselling. A dialogue can be set up between the students and the authorities before imposing such rules so that both parties can reach common ground. In the absence of communication, these rules could prove to be counterproductive, since students who do not understand the cause behind such a rule will simply not pay heed.
We have tried several times to help students by advising them, but none of it has worked so far. If students think this is a restriction on their freedom, then it is not so. Moreover, the numbers of rule breakers are far lesser than the numbers of those students who will be discouraged because they will be afraid of the punishment. I do not think that this will be counterproductive or that students will take this up like a challenge to flout the norms that have been laid down for them. However, even if it is difficult for students to accept the rules initially, I expect these guidelines to be followed by the freshmen and the situation to improve over time.