Finding Non- Existent Logic In Institute Rules
Rules comprise the primal structure of an institution and society and help in its smooth functioning. Establishing and implementing them is a must, but what happens if it doesn't serve the primary purpose, aka, "helping in the smooth functioning of the institution". Logic and rationale are the fundamental essential for a rule to be implemented especially in a technical institute. A lot of these rules have been in place for so long that we have internalised them to such an extent that we fail to recognise the lack of logic in them. Team MM researched and debunked some rules and presented you with an analysis of how these rules affect its stakeholders, i.e. students of NIT Rourkela.
Blockage Of LAN Services
The institute provides access to internet services through LAN within a restricted period (5 PM-8 AM) on working days. The academic time- table of students is such that many of them have neither classes nor labs on specific days or specific halves. For example- A student might have complete Wednesday as off, or a student might have the second half of Thursday as off, etc. The frequency of such occurrences is considerable for most of the students. Blocking of LAN services from 8 AM-5 PM serves as an inconvenience for all students leading to lesser productivity.
In today's age, blocking of internet services means blocking of access to information, whether it is through a simple google search or it is through digital libraries like IEEE. Top institutes in the country including IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, and IIT Roorkee provide access to 24*7 internet facility in hostels. In this regard, Team MM submitted a written proposal to the Dean Student Welfare. On his advice, the proposal was modified to providing access for only academic sites, basic google search, youtube videos, etc. One copy of the proposal was lost in transmission to the registrar. We submitted another copy of the proposal afterwards, and the proposal will be discussed in the next meeting of the Heads of departments.
It is notable that in a recent student pulse on the Monday Morning website, asking "Do you want 24x7 Internet Facilities through LAN at hostels throughout the year?" 93% of students replied with "Yes, this will be beneficial for us to utilise our free slots productively." 3% said "No, this will be a source of distraction for the students." and 4% felt "24x7 LAN facilities should be given only during examinations." Which clearly shows that almost an absolute majority of students want 24*7 internet facility in hostels.
Three major concerns that have always been raised by the administration in this regard are addressed below:
- Students might not attend classes: The problem with this argument is twofold. Firstly, check mechanisms such as grade back and debar policies are already in place, and students who are adults are wise enough to understand the consequences of not attending classes. Moreover, withdrawing the right to basic google searches and educational videos from students in fear of a few misusing it is not justified.
- Students might use it to watch movies or play games: Online gaming websites are banned anyway on the institute LAN services. With regards to watching movies or wasting time in general, a student can anyways download a movie at night and watch it in academic hours. It's simply a problem-solution mismatch.
- Students can access the internet by staying in the library: The simple counter to this illogical argument is that the library cannot hold 6000 students. Also, making a student go to the library when he could've done the same work staying at his hostel room if he had LAN access isn't justified. Moreover, in the post-Co-Vid world, asking students to assemble in the library to get internet access wouldn't be wise.
With that being said, Team MM hopes that the proposal is considered positively and some logical end to this long-lasting problem is found. If a technical institute of national importance cannot even provide basic 24*7 internet facility to its students, it is sad not only for the institute but also for the country.
The Disciplinary Manual
The Institute Standing Disciplinary Committee (ISDC) operates as per the disciplinary manual given on the institute website. According to the manual, it presents a systematic procedure for making the process of discipline administration more predictable and simpler to operate. But does the manual make the process more predictable? Team MM went through the manual in detail and found that often it was either redundant or left us with open-ended words which can have a spectrum of meanings making the process more ambiguous than "simple to operate". (The disciplinary manual can be found here)
What if we told you that if you hand over one of your used books to a fresher, then you might be handed multiple grade backs in return. This is precisely what the Disciplinary manual permits. According to offence number OB-2, "Making phone calls, handing over used books, offering to show the Market to First Year students" may lead to punishments as severe as multiple grade backs! What's worse is that if the first year takes that used book from you and doesn't report then According to offence number OC-2, he may also be punished. So, next time you want to help a junior keep this rule in mind.
On another note, have you ever copied an assignment from your friend? If yes, offence number OD-5 prescribes a spectrum of punishments leading up to placement facility being withdrawn for you. Similarly, in offences like OA-29 and OF-2 open-ended words like "showing disrespect" and "indecent behaviour" make the rules so ambiguous and subjective that if someone in the ISDC wants to take action against you, he can do it with ease.
On being asked about the reason behind the rules mentioned above concerning the "harassment of freshers," Dean Student Welfare Prof. S. Chakraverty said:
I don’t remember all these things. You need to consult the academic section for the specific rules and punishments.
It is notable that the manual states that the Dean Student Welfare is the chairman of ISDC. But him not knowing all the rules in detail is quite understandable. The Disciplinary manual prescribes over 25 different types of punishments and an astonishing 113 various offences (even after elaborating 113 different offences, the manual says "All other offences will be made equivalent to one of the above by the ISDC considering the nature of the offence and the circumstances."). In short, it is almost impossible for you to complete your stay at this institute and not commit at least one offence (as described in the manual). One might argue that listing the offences in the manual is fine until it is being used. But the point is that what listing these many offences does is that if a professor/ student wants to harm your career, there are enough mechanisms provided in the manual he can use. Hence, be careful and don't rely on logic in such cases instead read the disciplinary manual and count the number of offences that you have already committed!
Swiggy and Zomato: Turndown for what?
Providing respite from the mess food and the mundane canteen food are aggregators of food chain delivery like Swiggy and Zomato. Refusing its delivery on the campus is a pain, the students have to walk to the Main Gate or the Jagda gate to collect their parcel. This is a very cumbersome task, and the rule is pointless, considering that it doesn't stop the students from ordering in food. Besides, the restaurants have to earn a (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) FSSAI certificate to get registered for Swiggy. The primary reason for debarring them from the campus by the administration is food poisoning and other health hazards which can occur to the students. This seems to be redundant considering the quality of food and the hygienic conditions maintained in the mess halls, especially regarding the cleaning of plates and the presence of pests and animals.
When Team MM approached the Chief Warden Prof. S K Pratihar, he refused to comment on it.
However, Prof. R. Dhiman shared insight into why this decision was taken.
If the food is bad or affects the health of the students then it will be very difficult to manage. In our security advisory meeting, the Chief Warden had suggested the following changes and the rest of the committee members had agreed. However, we can bring in requests from students and revisit this issue in the next committee meeting. We are not sure about the quality of the food being served by them. Since the food is being served on campus, we are trying to add more business by on-campus restaurants and we’ll keep a quality check on them too.
Kartik Gupta, the campus Ambassador of Swiggy, cited further reasons for the dissent.
Another reason for them denying the entry of the delivery boys is the lack of security as it’ll be very difficult to keep track of every delivery boy entering and it’ll lead to the generation of more crowd at specific timings in the campus. Many alternatives were suggested like the stationing of Swiggy delivery at Amul but a security personnel will have to be present there all the time, which is not possible. Hopefully, this rule will be scrapped in the future.
The 85% Attendance Rule
85% attendance bar is something that has created a nightmare in the minds of almost all the students of NITR. Failing to attend classes due to some genuine reason or the other creates a dreadful situation for the students leading to grade backs and even getting debarred from the subject. For some students, maintaining this attendance bar is tougher and more demanding than securing good grades. Inability to attend classes due to serious health issues creates an execrable condition as students have to rush to the health centre for medical leaves and to get a medical leave is as tedious as convincing a professor to give marks.
On the contrary, the majority of institutes in our county have a relatively lower attendance bar of 75%. What is the reason behind such a disparity? Isn't it too harsh for the students? Can our attendance rules be changed and made more student-friendly?
Team MM approached the Dean Academics, Prof. S K Patel, to know about the reasons behind such a rule.
Our institute believes in the teaching-learning process to provide students with the right amount of knowledge in their respective field of interest, rather than making them examination-oriented and following the rat race of securing marks. We emphasise on regular classroom teaching. As the examination is only 2-3 hours, so the efficiency of a student can't be judged from it. Furthermore, it isn't possible to question all topics of a course in the examination. Even if a student skips some portions of a course for examination, he/ she can pass the exam. The interaction between teacher and students that occurs in a classroom is invaluable. So we expect students to attend all their classes and have a cent per cent attendance record, but it is observed that students suppose it to be their birthright to skip enough classes to maintain 85% attendance. This mindset among the students needs to be reformed. Moreover, our institute provides room for availing medical leaves and other leaves for genuine medical cases and family calamities. If the student representatives put forward a proposal in the senate regarding the reduction of attendance bar to 75%, definitely this matter will be discussed upon in the senate.
Hopefully, the student representatives put forward this issue in the Senate, and the attendance policies of our institute get a bit relaxed for the students.
Branch Change: Does It Even Exist?
As one enters the college, they get exposed to the real world and start discovering their passion and understand which stream is the best for them. Branch change gives an engineering student another chance to pursue the branch of his/her choice and desire. It is a second chance for those who have got into the institute of their choice but failed to get into their preferred branch, like a blessing which comes with a cost, but the prize is more than worth it. NIT Rourkela provides an option of branch change to meritorious students at the end of the first year based on CGPA. But is this facility efficiently dealing with the issue?
Both in 2018 and 2019 a total of 6 students managed to get their branch changed at NIT Rourkela. In contrast, 126 in IIT Kharagpur, 195 in ISM Dhanbad, and 61 students in IIT Roorkee managed to get their branch changed. A detailed analysis of the branch change scenario in different institutes is given here.
The reason why the number of branch changes is low in our institute is because of the inefficient rules related to it. In contrast to many other institutes, our institute doesn't consider consequential vacancies which are created for branch change. Some of the different rules which have been implemented in other institutes which can help in making the branch change scenario more meaningful are:
- Direct branch change for applicants securing CG above 9(or any other such cut off) without any restrictions.
- Considering consequential vacancies created because of branch change for another list of branch change.
- Keep a certain percentage of seats reserved (in the highly sought after branches) specifically for students who would come through branch change after 1st year.
- Removing any restriction of CGPA, i.e. anyone who wants to apply for branch change can do so, but the final list will be made based on CGPA.
Implementation of any of the suggestions mentioned above can not only lead to a more meaningful branch change rule, but it will also serve as a more achievable goal for freshers to strive for leading to better academic results of freshers.
To be or not to be: Political?
The alarming response of the administration for being associated with any political party is understood and recognised. It can not be blamed entirely for trying its best not to associate itself with any political party as there's a lot at stake with expressing one's political views these days. However, cancelling guest lecture sessions in Innovision or not allowing any guest who is remotely associated with anything related to politics seems to be an exaggerated precautionary measure. This measure has also led to the cancellation of many possible events that could have occurred in the future.
It needs to be understood that people are not just limited to their political beliefs, but they also represent their art and craft.
The Library Timings
A library is a delivery room for the birthplace of ideas, a place where history comes to life.
A majority of students in NITR resort to the library for fulfilling and blooming their academics. Especially during the examination periods, one can witness a massive footfall of students in the BPCL. But due to specific bizarre rules set up by our institute about the library timings, it is the NITR Junta who have to suffer.
Monday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
General Reading Hall Timings:
Monday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Why can't the library and the general reading hall be accessible to students 24*7? Is there any particular timing to impart knowledge. According to the views of a large section of the populace of NITR, this rule seems illogical. Let's find out what our authorities have to say when questioned about the relevance of such a bizarre rule.
Team MM approached the Dean Academics, Prof. S K Patel to know about the reasons behind such a rule,
Presently, we have our reading rooms open till 10 PM, but yes if students want the library or the reading room can be open 24X7. But none of the student representatives has come up with this issue to us. The only constraint in implementing such a proposal is the lack of workforce, but still, this matter can be discussed upon, and a practical solution can be figured out. We have set up reading rooms in all the hostels; recently we set up an air-conditioned reading room in HB hall of residence then why aren't students making full use of it? For students, there is no significant difference between studying in the library and hostel reading rooms. If you feel that the atmosphere or the condition of your hostel reading rooms isn't appropriate, then you are always free to report about it to the warden of your respective hostel. I'll be talking to the librarian regarding this and let's see what can be done. I believe it will be more convenient for students to study in their hostel reading rooms rather than coming far away to study in the library during the night.
Team MM hopes that the authorities take up this issue seriously and make the library and reading hall accessible to NITR Junta 24*7.
Library Has A Dress Code?
All students are advised to come to the Library in decent dress as they are in the classrooms.
The above rule stated by the BPCL is questionable and seems baseless to NITR Junta. It is crucial for a student to feel comfortable while studying whereas following a dress code produces hindrance to this fact. It is the fundamental right of every individual to dress up according to their wish and comfort. No regulations should be imposed upon this. Then why does our institute do so? Let's find out what argument our authorities put up to justify such an illogical rule.
Team MM approached the Dean Academics, Prof. S K Patel to know whether it is necessary to have a dress code for students coming up to the library,
Every place has a certain decorum that needs to be maintained, be it any workplace or institution. In your residence, you're free to wear whatever you're comfortable with, but when you're in a public place, there's a certain level of decency that one needs to follow. In the case of the library, students go there to study, so if students go there wearing some eye-catching dresses, they may get disturbed. Students can use the reading room of their hostels and there they can wear what they're comfortable in. But in places like classrooms and library, students need to maintain a decent dress code.
Food? Back-post. Transport? Back-post. Girls? No.
Although open to boys at specific timings, the infamous back-post can be accessed by a gate near the Homi Bhabha hostel., this gate is closed for girls. It perpetuates the misogynistic ideology of keeping the girls inside to keep them safe. "Safe from what?" one might ask. Well, the answer must be very well known to you. However, it is understood that it is not an ideal society but a patriarchal one where there is no other option to make a safe environment for girls apart from restricting them and inhibiting them. We understand that the safety of the institution's students come before everything else, but the logic is fallible and finds its loop-hole in the fact that the place can be accessed by means other than the back-post gate.
Responding to this, PIC of Security, Prof. R. Dhiman expressed the following.
The gate is open for the to and fro movement of mess-workers. I didn’t know it was not allowed for girls but it can be made open for them too but it’s not very safe. The rule is to discourage girls from going there. Boys go through that gate too but they can at least protect themselves pretty well. However, if you do feel the need, we can change the rule. We cannot control the activity of students outside the campus. We can just restrict them from inside the premises.
Although it does exist to restrict and restrain, does it serve the purpose? And should it limit in the first place? The rest is for the readers to introspect and contemplate.
Much has been spoken about the late entry rules established for girls, but it seems very little will be done to remove such bias set against girls by the administration. It doesn't take a genius to look around and spot the discrepancies it causes girls. While some things will always be prevalent to restrict and restrain girls, one might never just target the issue at its core level, and NIt Rkl will always be "a Cinderella story" except this is no fairytale.
Some of these rules, including 24*7 LAN access, the betterment of branch change possibilities, and increase in Library timings, are already being looked upon by the administrations, and alternative solutions are being sought. Some of the other rules will need more time to come to the forefront. But the motive of the article will be fulfilled if students start enquiring about the logic behind rules. The rules are meant for the students; students aren't meant for the rules.