The Spring Semester Reporting Date
The surprise and rather delayed announcement of the reporting time for the Spring semester sparked yet another all-too-familiar dispute on email just before the commencement of the winter break. More specifically over the penalty. As the Dean’s email stated, if some student did not “report to the hostel by midnite on 30th Dec”, then said student would be marked as absent for two classes for the courses finally registered in the Spring 2019 semester.
The Dean’s official reasoning for such a decision was, in summary, that—without the fine for late registration that existed earlier, students were missing classes in their first week (when the first two days of the semester are New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, one wonders why) leading to a lack of seriousness in academics for that week. And because no attendance was taken in the first week because of the Add/Drop period (yet another contested fact), the decision was taken as “it is logical to assume that a student who reports by the deadline is attending classes in the following days, while one who does not report is absent.”
Several replies followed rapidly picking apart the decision at every level. On the conceptual level, there already existed in use a system for transferring attendance to the final courses of choice after the Add/Drop period, why discard that? The consequences for someone reporting an hour late at 1 AM on the 31st of December seem to be as bad as those for someone attending their first class on the 7th of January, so how is this fair in any way? In turn someone registering by the 30th could disappear for a week and suffer no consequence at all, a strong case against the claim that this move would help with “academic seriousness” (assuming the administration’s take that attendance is equivalent to seriousness) in any way.
From the implementation perspective—why was the announcement so late? The Dean’s statement was that the almanac was not finalised as Felicity dates weren’t decided. But flights back to Hyderabad had already been booked. Anyone violating the Cindarellaesque midnight deadline would need to rebook at much monetary loss—something that could’ve been avoided had the administration informed just the reporting date (without preparing the entire almanac). The timing was such that it particularly hurt students flying in from outside India because of much higher international travel costs.
Many questioned such drastic decisions being taken without any input from the Student Parliament. Others asked why the administration had such a laser sharp focus on attendance when other crucial factors of student life, including, but not limited to, basic healthcare on campus, have consistently been ignored. Yet another question raised its head again—why have college at all on the last and first days of two years, recognised by most institutions as holidays?
The administration does have an answer to that (early start) — “Spring semester has several disruptions in the first month in the form of Sankranti and Felicity. It also ends in April when the heat of summer sharply rises making conducting/facing exams even more difficult. An early start of the semester is desirable to balance all these factors, facilitate academics and ensure comfort for the community”. Because two more days in April makes all the difference.
Past all arguments laid out, the issue reminds us again of concerns about the way the college administration operates.The administration’s response , or lack thereof, to legitimate student concerns remains extremely troubling. Alongside a prioritization of systems to ensure seriousness by forced attendance (a system that, as we saw in an article in the previous issue, doesn’t exist in many top 20 world institutes like MIT or Oxford) there is an equal aloofness when it comes to student well-being, Aarogya being the prime example in the case. Despite student representatives and extensive efforts to reason, the decision was unilateral, practically unchallenged, and a callback to several other policy matters and decisions in the past year. It seems as if institute is an oligarchy with the bare facade of a nominal democracy, but why wear that mask at all?
Removal of Post-Midnight Signing in for the Girls’ Hostel
While the midnight reporting issue caused much uproar, there was a small but welcome change related to hostel reporting after midnight the previous semester. Till the beginning of the last semester, all the girls had to sign in a register if they entered the hostel after midnight, unlike the boys. (This rule was in place for the UG2k17 first year boys as well, but then taken off after).This semester, after complaints from a few fourth year students, the hostel committee met with the Parijaat warden and caretaker, and the rule was thought over and removed. While it may seem like a really small issue, it was frustrating for a lot of students knowing that they would have to sign in when they came back after 12, only because of they were girls. It is delightful to see the already largely gender equal campus continue to take steps to reduce any form of discrimination, big or small.
Firecrackers in the Hostels
As residents of IIIT found out recently (or what would have been recently had this issue been published on time), bursting firecrackers in corridors does not particularly make for the best hostel environment. Diwali 2018 and the near end of end-sems saw multiple instances of firecrackers being burst both in Bakul and OBH, much to the annoyance of several residents. The in-hostel Diwali celebrations were met with a strong email backlash from a section of the students in OBH and a stern mail by the Bakul Caretaker; with complaints targeting primarily the sheer irresponsibility and lack of concern for others, with cases of crackers being burst outside people’s doors and reports of residents throwing firecrackers at the puppy that then resided inside the Bakul lawn. And that was just Diwali. The corridors lit up again come end-November, a time when many batches still had exams and some, placements. On this occasion the targets seemed to be the bathrooms. Several broken basins later it is yet unclear as to the reasoning behind such targeting — was this a response to how shit our “college life” appears to most residents? Regardless this obvious lack of concern for one’s fellow residents and the non consideration of obvious consequences for actions is a deeply concerning indicator of a deeper malaise in parts of our community —one that should ideally be tackled at some level. But how?
Prompt Responses at help.iiit.ac.in
Students have often used the help portal to fix hostel LAN issues, however not many have made use of the other facilities that are available on the portal. One can raise tickets for almost any issue, ranging from broken tubelights to fixing AC’s and repairing water coolers anywhere in campus. The responses by the help team have been extremely prompt and barring a few, those who have raised tickets on the portal have had pleasant experiences. According to a parliament member, there is a fixed time period for a ticket after which the registrar is notified if the ticket has not been cleared. Students should use this facility to help make the campus a better place for themselves, and others.
Lack of Response from the Engineering Department on the Water Bill Issue
When two authors from Ping! set out to cover the water bill issue, they had to approach several authorities to find out details. They sought information on various aspects of the issue from the Student Activities Committee (the SAC), the engineering department, the parliament and the representatives of the student community who had attended the several meetings on the issue. While the SAC was prompt in responding to the questions and concerns, the engineering department did not heed to the queries at all, despite having sent several emails, meeting them twice and even a request from the registrar to the department to provide information. This opacity makes it difficult for students to understand college issues.
The authors await a response from the parliament and the student representatives to know what happened in the time between the discussions, and the apparent resolution of at least part of the issue, that is, the refunds received in the water bill component of last semester’s fees.
Zubair Abid, Mahathi Vempati
Latest posts by Zubair Abid (see all)
- “Research Internship”: Questions about IIIT’s Brand - April 13, 2021
- The Case for a Mid-Sem Break in the Online Semester(s?) - October 15, 2020
- Editorial - August 2020 - August 8, 2020