It is hostel night season in IIT Madras! That time of the year when we bid farewell to the passing out batch. There is a vague theme, shabbily put up props to show for ambience, bad food (bloody mess secs!), uninspiring speeches, a makeshift DJ – parties don’t get any better. It’s a night the council of wardens is extremely wary of. They believe there is no way students can arrange all this without getting distracted from their studies. Besides, alcohols, drugs, girls in boys’ hostels, boys in girls’ hostels; these are concepts that don’t exactly fit into the conservative mindset seamlessly. So a couple of years back some moron can’t keep his hormones in check. He gets a little too comfortable on the dance floor; molests a girl. Well that’s what one hears anyway. And can’t you already see the wardens clasping their hands in excitement!

This is an email we received yesterday.

Suggested Action on students who are caught violating rules: (needs to be approved by CoW)

1.      Substance Abuse (drugs) – File FIR at police station.  Please note: this offense will involve issue of NON-BAILABLE arrest warrants.

2.      Liquor AND / OR misbehavior – 10,000 INR + EXPULSION from Hostel (with immediate effect)

3.      Cigarette – 5,000 INR

4.      Guests have to leave by 10:30 p.m.

The student council / designated leaders will ring the bell at 10.20 p.m.  All guests* will be escorted out by their hosts by 10.30 p.m.  The Hostel Council members will go around the hostel, search for any remaining guests before declaring FORMALLY in writing that all the guests are out by 10.45 p.m.

Any guest * apprehended between 10.30 and 10.45 p.m. will be levied a fine of punished by the Hostel Council (Rs.2500 each, and the guest(s) and the host(s) will be expelled from the hostel immediately for a minimum period of one month).  Between 10.45-11.00 PM, all the rooms will be kept open by the students and the Warden(s) will walk through the entire hostel.

5.      In any guest/host is apprehended in cases relating to (1), (2), (3) and (4):

The Hostel Council Member in charge for that wing/block will be held responsible in case he/she does not report the same to the higher authorities, and must resign and voluntarily vacate the hostel immediately and stay outside the campus for a minimum period of one month.

*The above conditions shall apply for girl guests in boys’ hostel and vice versa.

For Sharavati:         

Hostel night to be split up into 2 parts:

  • Hostel day inside Sharavati (Afternoon 3:00pm to 6:00pm)

(1)   Final year students (only) can invite their guests during this time period

(2)  Final years can invite only 2 guests

(3)  Guest list (Name, roll no.) to be made ready 3 days prior to the hostel night.

(4)  All guests have to bring their ID cards and no guests will be allowed to enter without submitting their ID Cards.

(5)  Guest ID cards along with the ID card of the girl host will be collected while entering, and will be given back to them when they leave.

(6)   No food arrangements inside the hostel during this time

(7)  The guests will have to leave by 6:00pm

(8)  The room doors SHOULD NOT BE CLOSED whenever a guest is inside the room

(9)  Defaulters are subjected to all the above mentioned punishments

  • Hostel Night in OAT :

(1)  Hostel Night in OAT (Evening 7:00pm onwards)

(2)  Students from any year can invite their guests to OAT

(3)  No tab on the no. of guests and no prior guest list needs to be provided

(4)  Wing videos screening, DJ and dinner arrangements will be made in OAT

This is utterly disgraceful. Pay attention to the wording. It is demeaning. So they propose to keep a tab on each minute a girl stays in the boy’s hostel – 10.15, 10.20, 10.30, 10.45. Can you imagine how petrified the poor chick will be as she keeps checking her watch every couple of minutes? What is this, military camp?

There is a restriction on the number of guys a girl can invite to her hostel. Seriously? What are the stats? 50 girls, 500 guys. How can she have more than 2 guy friends? Makes perfect sense. And on the only day boys have the permission to step inside Sharav. Clearly, we are all rapists here. Thanks.

One point is particularly funny. The room doors should not be closed whenever a guest is inside the room. Oh no! but I always wanted to do it in her room! Interestingly, there is no such restriction in the boy’s hostels. Of course, care will have to be taken to get dressed before 10.30.

And what happened? A guy got carried away and pressed some breasts. Well, take action against THAT guy. Fine him. Imprison him. Whatever. Set an example. Did you catch someone eve teasing? Fine them. Did someone take his shirt off while dancing to the Dj. Gross? Yes. Inappropiate? Maybe. Illegal? Certainly not! Still, if you find it unreasonable, disallow that. But just banning the entire thing is incredibly undemocratic. We’re all adults here. If the government has no problems with drinking, why should the institute form special rules? Stop being such control freaks, for god’s sake.

What is an institute like IIT doing with such restrictions? Don’t we love to brag about the quality of students we admit? Is this the kind of confidence the institute has in its ability to shape the personalities of the brightest individuals in the country? So the profs have put their hands down, ‘No, we can’t inculcate sense into our students by talking to them. So we are going to tie them down and strangle them till they’re disciplined.’ Oh by the way, how many wardens have tried to talk to the students on the issue?

Okay, let’s say they impose the ban this time. Well they have done it already. Whoever thought students would get a say in such matters. But think about it. This isn’t even a quick fix. It’s a gimmick – it’ll only serve to infuriate the students against the management, that’s all. Everything is available far too easily and the hostel isn’t the only place where it can be had. If someone wants to do drugs, he hardly has to walk 100 meters from taramani gate. There are enough cheap motels in Chennai, if sex is what they’re trying to prevent. But let’s say they have managed to keep the students in check.

Most of these students are going to leave the institute soon with rather well paid jobs. How do they propose to stop them then? Or do they think they are no more their responsibility? The media loves IITs. ‘IIT grad accused of rape.’ That’s the kind of stuff every editor’s dreams are made of. Okay, maybe I’m using the word rape too many times. But that’s what they’re making us think we are – rapists and drug addicts who have absolutely no control over what they are doing.

I like LSG. I thoroughly enjoy reading his emails – of which, we’ve been having plenty lately. He makes sense when he speaks. He also listens to the other person’s point of view. I know a few other very cool profs. What are their points of view on this topic, I would love to know. But no, I don’t have the balls to write this letter to the dean. I don’t have anything in particular to fear, but if this post were to somehow find its way to him, I would really not know how to react.

I drink very occasionally. I plan to stop it altogether, but not quite yet. But I’ve never done anything while being drunk that I regret. I don’t smoke – tried it twice; a couple of puffs each time; coughed it out. Horrible, it tasted. No drugs either. (I meditate. It is, by far, the smartest, healthiest, most inexpensive way of staying high 24/7. ) And I’ll probably get invited to Sharav anyway. (Hint, girl. Hint!) So no, this isn’t personal.