The events mentioned here transpired in the summer of 2020. As of publishing, all senior year students were exempted from the hostel vacation process and were provided the necessary certificates. This article has been published nonetheless for archival purposes.
The mid-March e-mail asking students to vacate from the campus hit the student body with a surprise. Due to the short notice, most of the students could not fully vacate their hostel rooms. For most of the students, this has not been an issue as they can use the rooms in the coming semesters post-COVID-19, but for the 2020 graduates this has turned out to be an unforgettable ordeal.
In a set of emails in May, the institute asked the graduating students to fully vacate their rooms and obtain a no dues certificate. The no dues certificate is a requirement to obtain the graduation certificate from the institute, which is often asked by employers and universities during application. The students were asked to fully vacate their rooms by the 15th of July at the latest 1, after which the institute would vacate the rooms without student permission, although the threat was never carried out. An undertaking to be signed was sent to put into effect the new obligations.
The institute offered some options regarding this, such as hiring professional packers and movers, but these would come with their own caveats, such as the possibility of contamination, and loss or damage of personal belongings- some of which were expensive. Despite the Student Parliament’s efforts, the institute did not provide any alternative to vacating hostel rooms, as they felt it would be difficult for students to do so after they have graduated and moved out of Hyderabad, leading to a room accommodation problem, like in 2018. Hostel managers could be reached out to if a student was unable to vacate as per institute guidelines, to deal with exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
However, as per the latest updates Ping! has received, the luggage of some students was yet to be removed, but no-dues certificates were given to all regardless, as professional packers’ and movers’ operations were halted due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in India.
A short timeline of events
A set of emails sent in May informed the graduating batch that they would have to fully vacate their hostels in order to get their no-dues cleared. On the 29th of the month, the Student Parliament released the results of a survey that asked how many students were comfortable with the idea of, or were willing to give consent to, the hostel authorities packing their belongings. Almost 98% of the respondents were uncomfortable with the idea, with 89% of them unwilling to give the requisite consent. They also clarified that the rooms were being cleared out for policy reasons, not because the rooms were urgently required, since the next batch would probably join much later than usual. The institute was taking steps trying to mitigate the impact of this process, and at the same time, a document was circulated by Parliament for students to add their suggestions to ease the process.
On the 9th of June, following conversations with parliament, the Chair CoW clarified that students could obtain a provisional certificate by signing an undertaking that they would take measures to clear out their rooms by a given date, failing which the Institute would be authorised to vacate it themselves. The options available to students were to:
- Vacate the hostels themselves, if they were staying in or around Hyderabad and would be able to travel
- Otherwise, get the assistance of local students or guardians to do the same, or
- Give consent to hostel administration to enter their room and allow a professional Packers to pack up their belongings for them.
With some feedback from the Students’ Parliament, on the 14th of June, the institute issued a few clearer directives to help the students vacate. First, for students who opted for professional help that packing and moving were separate, and one could opt for either one or both. Second, that an option of having the professionals video-call the students was being looked into. Third, a form was shared asking students to fill in their preferences to make the decision making easier.
The options were –
- Only Packing: Hostel authorities would help packing under the supervision of a confidant, with the packers (Agarwal Packers & Movers) charging Rs. 1000 per student. Professional packers and movers would pack and store belongings in a storeroom. It was later clarified that expensive items such as laptops and monitors would not be kept in the storeroom – necessitating the need for a mover, as well. The institute had offered to keep these in their storerooms, but this was rejected by the students.
- Only Moving: The packing would be done by students’ friends or guardians, and the movers (SafeExpress, at the time) would ship them: cost dependent on the weight of the shipment and the distance to cover. SafeExpress had a 20kg limit, however, and students later confirmed that they would only be moving clothes and books – no expensive items.
- Both Packing and Moving: Agarwal Packers & Movers would pack the items, and SafeExpress would move them
A day later, the Parliament shared an email with a detailed action plan for exactly how the rooms would be cleared out. They also acknowledged some general issues, such as the deadlock created by Safexpress’ inability to transport expensive items and the packer’s refusal to keep such items in the storerooms. Further clarification was also offered on the fact that students could opt for their own movers while alternatives were being looked at.
Around this time, with help of a push from the Students’ Parliament it was informed that the IMS form for no-dues would be open throughout the year, but students wishing to get a Program completion/Provisional certificate would have to fill it by the 20th of June. A request for an FSIS was also sent out. The students were urged to fill the form as soon as possible to avoid any administrative issues.
On the 22nd of June, the General Secretary of the Student Parliament updated the students on their situation –
- An email had been sent by the General Secretary asking for an extension to the 15th July deadline.
- If there was any change to the plans of reopening the college physically, it would be conveyed to the student community by the Director/Registrar/Deans, and not by the Chair CoW or the hostel administration
- The Students’ Parliament had not been invited to any high-level meetings with the Dean(A) or the Director, nor was it aware of the happenings of any such meetings.
- The Parliament and Dr. Radhika Mamidi had been conveying the concerns of graduating students to the higher management, trying to get them to extend the deadline.
- The General Secretary advised the students to fill out the no-dues form and request the hostel manager to process the no-dues form at the earliest. The hostel vacating date, at the time of the mail, was 25th June for those opting for professional packers/movers, and 15th July for the others.
By the 26th of June, it was figured out that packing would be delayed. However, the hostel manager informed through the Parliament that he would still process the hostel no-dues, so pending no-dues would be processed soon. Students who still hadn’t were asked again to fill the forms. As only some rooms had been vacated, by the 2nd of July the hostel management decided to look for alternate vendors for packing and moving.
On the 3rd of July, the following checklist was shared for packing, with slots being shared later.
According to the latest updates Ping! received on the 26th of July, the luggage of some students was yet to be moved. The hostel administration has asked these students to personally oversee the vacating of their room if they see this as an urgency. No-dues certificates were issued regardless of hostel room vacation.
While the graduating students were facing issues and feeling confused about vacating rooms, research students faced their own set of hurdles.
On the 11th of June, a mail was sent on behalf of the graduating dual degree students raising several issues:
1. A deadline for thesis submission and defense. Due to the pandemic, the students’ ability to do research was adversely affected. As such, students felt that the earlier deadline of 30th June should be postponed.
2. Monsoon 2020 fees: In the past, students who submitted their thesis prior to the beginning of the semester would not have to pay the hostel fees for the next semester, despite not finishing the defense. It is not clear if this will be the case in the coming semester.
3. Since many of the students hadn’t defended their theses, a question was raised asking if there was a need to vacate their rooms and if it would be possible to do so in the middle of the semester when travel would be hopefully safer. The issue of safe travel for all involved in the task was raised as the institute had previously suggested reaching out to close acquaintances living in Hyderabad for help.
4. Returning of lab provided desktops, lockers, etc: Without the safe return of lab provisions, a no-dues certificate cannot be obtained. The mail asked for clarification on this, as a student may not be able to get a no-dues certificate despite completing all other requirements, including the thesis defense, and travelling to Hyderabad in order to return the provisions would be hard.
The Academics Office, on the 17th of June, responded to the mail stating that the deadline for the thesis defense would still remain as the 30th of June, as the convocation was fixed on the 18th of July. The Academics Office offered no clarifications on issues (2), (3), and (4), despite further requests on the same by the General Secretary
Author: Murali Bhat
Editor: Zubair Abid