Hitches at the Commencement
With the start of a fresh academic year, while there has been considerable excitement among boarders regarding the reopening of college, there have also been various questions raised regarding their stay in their respective Halls of Residence. Team MM met with the newly appointed Chief Warden, Prof. S. K. Patel to discuss some of these issues and try to reach plausible solutions to the same.
MM: There are many first year girls who have not been allotted rooms, causing them to stay in dormitories, and some of them haven’t been provided with beds either. Why are the circumstances such?
CW: The number of girls who have taken admission this year exceeded our expectations, and although we tried our level best to assign them rooms by converting formerly single and triple seater rooms to double and quadruple seaters respectively, with the consent of those residing in those rooms, of course, we fell short of space. So we had to ultimately resort to dormitories, because that was the most feasible short-term measure applicable. We expect a significant number of girls to leave the institute after medical entrance examination’s results are declared, so, hopefully, we’ll be able to accommodate all the girls into rooms. But, in the meanwhile, we’ll be providing them with beds, cupboards and all other basic requirements. Also, we’ll try to consider the proposal of building another ladies’ hostel.
MM: A lot of second years haven’t been allotted rooms according to the choice list they were asked to provide. Why is it so?
CW: It isn’t possible to ensure that all of them would get the halls and neighbors of their choice, because the number of available rooms in the sought-after halls is limited, after all. Also, the constitution of India itself discourages us from forming groups which divide us or resorting to communalism. Initially, before we converted the double-seater rooms of HB hall to that for single boarders, they were very reluctant to reside there. So, we’re making amends, planning for the best optimization possible, and consequently implementing them.
MM: Reports of locks to rooms being broken, especially in CVR hall, has come up. What exactly happened?
CW: The first year students came before the senior students, owing to their admission dates being much before the seniors’ registration dates. Since the rooms allotted to the freshmen were being used by the senior students in the previous semester and these students locked their rooms, the first years were stranded without rooms.
We tried everything we could to accommodate these students and tried everything possible, but we were helpless and ended up facing a lot of pressure from the parents. Hence, we had to break a few locks. The students were asked to vacate their rooms and move to their newly allotted rooms via notices, but that did not happen. A probable explanation to this can be the fact that there was a communication gap due to the change of warden for CVR. For the next year and the years to come, we request the boarders to move to their newly allotted rooms and not lock their previous rooms.
MM: Block-A in SD hall has no water coolers or internet facility, and rooms have no furniture. Still, students were allotted these rooms. Can we have a statement on that?
CW: LAN port installation will start from the first week of August. Furniture will be provided in a while, as the hall has never been allotted to boarders before. The rooms which were allotted to the students when the allotment list was released were furnished to the best extent, and cots have been provided in each one of them. The rooms which have no furniture were not allotted, but we were forced to accommodate students there because they requested so. The students who moved into SD’s block-A from other halls were ready to live without furniture, and no unfurnished rooms were provided to them without their consent.
MM: A normalized rate chart was released for all hall canteens last year, but complains persist that the prices are not in compliance with the specified ones, or that the canteens have stopped supplying the items they formerly used to because the specified price in the rate chart was lower than what they previously demanded for the students. What are your views on that?
CW: We weren’t aware of this situation. Thank you for bringing this to our notice. We are definitely going to publish a circular which states that the wardens of the respective halls must ensure that the prices stated must be followed.
I sincerely urge the students to report any incidents involving non-compliance of orders which they feel adversely affects them to their respective wardens or assistant wardens. If that does not suffice, they can approach me as well.
MM: There have been complaints regarding the cleanliness of utensils in the mess. Soiled plates and spoons aren’t being washed properly, and boarders find pickings and leftovers still stuck on utensils. Sometimes, they are washed with plain water only. Why is hygiene being neglected?
CW: We’ll issue letters to all the caterers to ensure that this isn’t repeated in future times. Also, we’ll try and figure out better methods of cleaning to implement in halls. The wardens and health officers must pay surprise visits to check that the cleanliness is maintained.
MM suggestion: An efficient dish-washing system could be maintained to speed up and better the process. Also, the number of utensils could be increased so the staff doesn’t face problems during rush hours in the mess, which is the time cleaning is done haphazardly.
MM: The water quality in the halls of MSS, DBA, HB and KMS has been questionable. How does the institute plan on resolving this issue?
CW: A filtration plant is being built in NIT-R so that we don’t depend on sources outside NIT-R (Govt. of Odisha) for clean water, as we are right now. Ground water is being used in VS and SD, and this option will be explored for other hostels as well.
MM: Curtains and other facilities such as hot water for each hostel were promised. By when can we expect these?
CW: Curtains have been provided in a few hostels, such as GDB, as of now. Typically, the other hostels can expect such facilities by the end of this year. A part of the budget has been diverted to ensure that hot water is available in each hostel.
MM: In KMS the water had not been able to drain through, leading to logs in the toilets and ankle-deep water in the bathrooms. What steps have been taken to tackle this problem?
CW: As soon as I was made aware of this situation, I immediately called up the estate officer to have the septic tank cleaned and the sewage jams to be taken care of. He has answered in affirmative, so we can expect these issues to be sorted out soon.
MM: The number of coolers isn’t proportional to the demands, with not even one present for each floor of the halls, and with them failing frequently, the boarders are left with no other option but to fetch water from neighboring blocks. What measures are being taken to improve the scenario?
CW: There ought to be at least one water cooler which is functional for each floor at all times. We’ll try and procure more coolers so the demands are met.
MM: Why aren’t bathrooms in many hostels being cleaned regularly?
CW: The products provided for cleaning are branded and the cleaning staff is required to clean the bathrooms and hostel corridors twice a day. Two officials do rounds every day in each hostel to ensure that the cleaning is done effectively. Even then if the problem persists, students are welcome to lodge complaints before the authorities.
MM: During hall elections, there have been various complaints regarding accounts being hacked and students being forcefully demanded to divulge their passwords. What steps have been taken to curb this?
CW: The thing about hall elections is that they take place at the beginning of the academic year, and at this point, the user IDs and passwords of the freshmen are their roll numbers. Hence, such cases have been reported in the past. This year we plan on putting up notices and intimating every new student about changing their passwords. Again, if forced into voting for someone they don’t want to vote for, students are welcome to contact the officials.
MM: Growth of mosquitoes, ants, rats and cockroaches has been rampant. Why are pest control measures not being taken regularly?
CW: Pest control will be done more frequently. In addition to mosquito repellents being sprayed every week, an effort to reduce insects will be taken. More rat traps will be set up all through hostels. This matter will be brought to the HMC’s notice immediately so that work starts as quickly as possible. On a trial basis, work will start in HB Hall of Residence in a few days, and this will spread to other hostels in a while.
MM: There isn’t proper sports equipment available for use in some halls, particularly SD; no indoor games either; and the basketball court is dilapidated, its baskets are broken and its nets were torn in KMS. Why is the condition such?
CW: SD is a new hostel and hence lacks in sports equipment. But we’ll provide the hostel with a TT table as quickly as we can, after talking to the sports secretaries of each hall. Coming to basketball courts in KMS, the HMC probably allotted lesser funds to Basketball, hence the condition. This issue will be looked into.
MM: What is your vision as a chief warden? What changes would you like to bring about in NITR’s hostels?
CW: The plan is to make hostels more liveable, comfortable and enjoyable. Besides that, we plan on improving the study atmosphere in hostels. The four or five years of stay here for the students here is important and hence, with help of other officers, some plans are being chalked out to improve each boarder’s interests in studies.