In August 2021, DD17 and HS17 (hereon collectively referred to as DD17) students were invited to stay on campus until January 2022 to finish their DDP and MAP research work. A significant number, however, opted to stay at home for the semester. Of the many reasons that they cited, the lack of academic requirement to be on campus in the odd semester was a significant one. DDPs that require labs need them particularly in the even semester because the odd semester is generally spent in the theoretical groundwork for the project.
With this in mind, some students chose to defer their return and some were told by their guides to return in January 2022. A few opted to stay at home because they hadn’t been fully vaccinated. When they mailed the DoSt office about the prospects of returning in January, they were told that the administration could not provide assurance about calling DD17 back in the even semester. Several of those who did return in August 2021 have also expressed the need to stay on campus in the even semester to finish their projects.
In November 2021, an smail was sent with a tentative schedule to call UG students back from December onwards. DD17 students mailed the DoSt again asking whether they would be allowed to be on campus too. However, they were told that it would not be possible to accommodate DD17 beyond January 2022, the primary reason being a paucity of space.
This limitation is explained as follows, with inputs from the Students’ General Secretary (SGS) and the Hostel Affairs Secretary (HAS):
In August 2021, accounting for all the restrictions, the institute had the capacity to accommodate 2200 students for research work. This was filled with PG and PhD students. Now, the institute has the capacity to accommodate 4500 students and has chosen to bring back the 2020, 2019 and 2018 UG batches, which comprise around 3000 students. The rationale behind this decision was given by the academic requirements of the UG batches – the 2020 batch has labs, workshops and NSS/NCC/NSS/NCA classes, the 2019 batch has labs and workshops, and the 2018 batch has labs and BTPs. The remaining 1500 students will be PG and PhD students. This does not leave space for DD17. Moreover, on paper, one restroom stall can be used by only two students, and this cannot hold if DD17 is called back as well. Furthermore, tower hostels are currently being used to quarantine male students. Soon, one of the tower hostels is set to be used for female students, reducing the space that DD17 can use for quarantining.
The SGS has stated that the situation will be re-evaluated in mid-February, after UG 2020, 2019 and 2018 batches have returned. The administration may decide to call DD17 back then, but it is not certain at the moment. As of now, if DD17 students require lab access to labs, they will have to find private accommodation outside the campus and commute to the institute.
The administration is still circumspect regarding calling students back; inviting DD17 might nudge the other PG batches to demand their return. The issue under scrutiny is whether, considering the limited capacity being made available, UG batches that do not have an immediate academic requirement to be on campus should be prioritised over DD17, all of whom need to finish their projects by the end of the even semester if they want to graduate on time. Although it may be argued that, from an academic point of view, the requirements of DD17 should take precedence, the SGS observes that UG students have been prioritised, taking into account the importance of the intangible elements of living on campus.
Being the first batch of students to be called back to campus, DD17 was faced with uncertain circumstances and a muddled call-back process that prompted some of them to remain at home. For many students, the biggest point of contention remains the lack of transparency regarding their prospects of return, which has inconvenienced many of those with lab requirements, to say nothing of the disappointment of those who could not return in the odd semester. It remains to be seen whether the institute will attempt to address their concerns in the coming months.