The Mayhem of Order
In recent times, the NITR campus has been abuzz with discussion and deliberation about the kind of freedoms that its students are entitled to, irrespective of their gender. A series of unfortunate events led to a rise in resentment and dissatisfaction among certain factions of the populace and finally they came together to demand equality in rules for male and female students alike on the eve of 31st of March, at BBA. The gathering was addressed by the Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas, who patiently tackled all the issues, admitting to mistakes on the part of authorities wherever required, defending the status quo and finally reaching a middle-ground with the students.
Team MM brings to you a detailed version of the events that transpired, starting from the General Body Meeting held in CVR on 25th of March to the survey held in both the ladies hostel on 3rd of April and the discussion that followed in the Dean and HoDs meeting held on 5th of April.
GENERAL BODY MEETING
A General Body Meeting was conducted by the HEC of CVR Hall of Residence on 25th of March, in order to let the boarders pitch their problems to the Warden herself, owing to the growing resentment due to the persistent maintenance issues, sudden change in curfew timing without proper prior notification, degradation of mess food and a mail from the Warden regarding installation of CCTV cameras in the mess area as well as the corridors, among other problems.
The meeting opened with Prof. Archana Mallik, Warden of CVR Hall of Residence, addressing the mess issues, which had remained unsolved for a long time, with insects being regularly spotted in the food that was being served and the quality dipping lower with each passing day. Undoubtedly an issue of prime importance, deliberation upon the mess menu, however, ended up taking more than an hour of the meeting, while the other issues remained unattended till this point of time. Also, during the discussion, it was opined that Halal chicken be introduced in the mess menu, as around 30% of the boarders of CVR are Muslims. However, Prof. Mallick shrugged the suggestion off, stating that she herself did not believe in the practice of Halal and was against the way the preparation is done, thus citing her personal beliefs as the reason why she wouldn’t allow it.
Keeping in mind that the meeting was to be concluded in a span of 3 hours, the maintenance issues were taken up, wherein the boarders expressed resentment regarding the installation of CCTV cameras and how it was a breach of the boarders’ privacy. It was also suggested that the same money be utilised for installation of washing machines in the hostel, keeping in mind the sorry state of the central laundry system and the amount of money being charged for it. When the students cited examples of IITs and BITS where a washing machine is available on every floor, which the students operate on their own without paying any money for it, Prof. Mallick went on to remark that NITR girls weren’t as capable as the female junta of the aforementioned institutes, as has been observed in the past, pointing towards the washing machines in CVR being broken and needing repair in the past, and linking it to the girls not knowing how to operate a washing machine. She also stressed upon the need to have CCTV cameras installed in the corridors, to put a check on the incidents of theft, which are on a rise in CVR Hall of Residence. When the girls mentioned that CCTV cameras clearly impeached their right to privacy, Prof. Mallick made it clear that the privacy of the boarders was not her concern, and not big enough a reason for her to change her decision.
The late entry issue was also taken up, but no fruitful conclusion came out of it. Thus, the General Body Meeting at CVR ended on a dissatisfactory note, with the problems of the boarders being trivialized and no plausible solutions being provided, which led to further resentment among the female junta.
The GBM thus served as a prelude to the movement that lied ahead, wherein the rights of the female junta were simply dismissed by the authorities under the pretext of reasons such as their safety.
THE UNOFFICIAL MEETING, HELD IN THE CHIEF WARDEN’S OFFICE
A mail was sent to the boarders of CVR by their Warden, wherein they were informed regarding a notice been put up on the notice boards regarding the usage of coolers in CVR. However, this led to a lot of confusion among the boarders as they could first not find any such notice and were not being allowed to bring their newly bought coolers past the security post of CVR, as the notice specified that only certain brands such as Symphony, Cello, and Bajaj would be allowed inside CVR. Thus, this led to considerable chaos among the junta of CVR.
The boarders then first approached the Warden regarding this in the Hall itself and were then directed by her to approach the people whose names were mentioned in the notice, dated April 2016, which included Dean (Establishment) and a number of people from the Technical Team of the erstwhile HMC. Some boarders went on to seek permission from the Chief Warden, Prof. Manoranjan Barik, who permitted them to use their coolers but were then denied permission by Prof. Mallick herself.
To put an end to the chaos, the boarders decided to take this up with the higher authorities and hence assembled outside the Chief Warden’s office. After making the students wait for more than an hour, the Chief Warden called up the rest of the authorities, including the Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas, Registrar and former Chief Warden, Prof. S.K. Patel, ex-Chief Warden, Prof. R.K. Patel and Dean (Establishment). The problem regarding cooler usage was discussed at length, with the boarders asking the authorities why only CVR suffers from this problem. It must be noted that this problem has been persistent for the past 5-6 years and nothing has been done about it so far. The authorities said that they are still contemplating upon it and a solution “can be expected” in the future. The Director finally agreed to let the boarders use their coolers after the institute hours, i.e. 09:30 PM onwards. Meanwhile, the authorities will assess the problem and chalk out a permanent solution for this.
During the course of the meeting, it was also revealed that no permission had been given to anyone regarding the installation of CCTV cameras by the Chief Warden, and hence the mail that was sent by the Warden of CVR, who was absent at this meeting, in this regard was outright false. Since none of the higher authorities were CCed in the mails that were circulated, they remained unaware of any such verbatim taking place between the Warden and the boarders of CVR.
After this, around 15-20 boarders stayed back to discuss the new rule regarding late entries with the higher authorities, in hopes that they will understand their situation and revert the system back to 4 late entries per month. Also, a noteworthy fact here is that the Warden of CVR only notified the students about the new late entry rule after she had sent out letters to the parents of certain students about them coming late, asking them to come meet her so that a course of disciplinary action could be decided upon which the boarder would then be subjected to. However, instead of understanding the plight of the female boarders, the higher authorities too trivialized their problems. Multiple derogatory, sexist and misogynistic comments were hurled upon the boarders and their ethics and morals were questioned by these authorities, which came as a huge shock to them.
Thus, the problem only got further aggravated due to this exchange and the boarders decided to approach the Director about it, the very next day. The Director listened to their woes and a decision was made to conduct an Open House Session at BBA on 31st of March, 06:00 PM by him, a mail regarding which was then circulated via webmail to the NITR junta.
BBA OPEN HOUSE SESSION
The sudden imposition of ridiculously strict late entry laws, as well as the outrageous statements made by the authorities in the meeting held at the Chief Warden's office on 29th of March and by the Warden of CVR at the General Body Meeting, held on 25th of March created grave resentment among the masses which led to more than 500 students turning up at BBA on the evening of 31st of March for an Open Discussion with the Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas.
The session opened with issues like laundry system for girls and introduction of Halal chicken being brought up but the one which was discussed at length was the late entry fiasco. The Warden of CVR, Prof. Archana Mallick, was accused of making demeaning comments in response to the boarders’ demand of Halal chicken and using some very objectionable and inappropriate justifications for the imposition of late entry rules. However, she clarified in the meeting that she didn’t mean any of those things, but was rather only quoting what she had heard from sources. Her suggestion for installing CCTVs in CVR was ruled out by the Director considering it as a breach of privacy.
The discussion finally turned to the much debated late entry issue where the students narrated the problems they had to face because of the same. The director cited security and safety reasons for the continuation of such rules to which the students suggested to keep Institute in time rather than a hostel in time. Students also demanded that library be open all night and girls be allowed to enter workshops during night. Prof. S. K. Patel, the Registrar, was of the opinion that such things could be allowed but he was more concerned about students especially girls wandering into “Dark Places” which became potentially unsafe after 10:30PM.
The Director concluded the meeting asking for more time to look into this matter and announced that final decision would be taken in an HOD meeting scheduled on 5th April, which would be attended by 2 student representatives along with other authorities.
Also, it was decided that a survey would be conducted among the boarders of both the ladies hall to know the opinion of the masses regarding the abolishment of late entry rules, which was successfully conducted on the evening of 3rd of April, 2017. A majority of the boarders were in favor of the abolishment of the existing rules while a meager proportion wanted the existing rules to continue. When asked to choose between Institute In-time and Hostel In-Time a major proportion of voters (87.97% from CVR & 92.44% from KMS) preferred Institute In-Time over Hostel In-Time while a small section of voters (7.1% from CVR & 2.4% from KMS) wanted Hostel In-Time. However, unfortunately, only 222/343 and 532/870 boarders voted in KMS and CVR, respectively.
DEAN AND HoDs MEETING
As per the decision taken in the BBA session a meeting was held in the senate hall which was attended by the Director, HoDs, Deans, Wardens, Chief warden, SAC President and few other senior faculties along with two student representatives. The key points of modifications proposed by the representatives included:
- Female boarders shall be allowed to leave their hostels only up to 11 PM in the night, unless in case of situations such as catching a train, any emergency medical condition or other such emergencies.
- Female boarders shall be allowed to leave the premises of the institute only up to 11 PM in the night, unless in case of situations such as catching a train, any emergency medical condition or other such emergencies.
- Beyond 10:30 PM, the entire faculty residential area shall be off-limits for all students except students returning to KMS Hall of Residence.
- Female boarders shall be allowed to enter the institute or hostel premises at all times.
The Director suggested changes which were quite similar to the Students’ proposal but it was faced with strong objections by the majority of the members at the meeting. They questioned that why can’t girls wrap up their work by 10:30 PM and even pointed that despite in-time rules students get into untoward, nuisance creating incidents and abolishing the rules will only worsen the situation. None of the modifications proposed by the students were accepted rather suggestions for more stringent rules like biometric attendance and strict in-time rule for boys, were made. However, one of the proposals for keeping the academic area accessible to all students even after 10:30 PM may be implemented in near future. No final decision was taken at all in the HOD meeting, only suggestions were put up which were passed on to HMC to finalize them.
(All Pictures Credits: Waheeb Rashid)