The Test for Wardenship



Dr. Devendra Jalihal had been the warden of Godavari Hostel around 10 years back. He prepared this ‘questionnaire’ for potential applicants for IIT hostel wardenship. The ‘questionnaire’ is based on some of his real-life experiences and takes a light-hearted look at student life in IIT Madras. Godavari must have been really gifted to have such a warden.

The entire question paper below was composed by him to test professors who wished to be wardens and has been published verbatim here.

Test Paper for Wardenship

10 minutes

Max Marks: 30

(1) A student calls you at 2:00 am at the dead of the night complaining that his PC hard-disk is missing. As a warden, you:

A. offer to give him your hard-disk the next morning if he lets you get back to sleep now.
B. curse his kula, gotra and all his ancestors before banging the phone down.
C. thank him for waking you up at 2:00 am and promptly begin grading that much procrastinated EE110 papers.
D. gently tell him that it is a good-riddance. A PC didn’t do any good to anyone anyways.

(2) A student thrusts a round, brown, smelly substance under your nose and demands to know how is he expected to eat this ‘dosa’. As a warden, you:

A. examine the rigid body admiringly and decide to send it to Construction Management group in Civil department for further testing.
B. try to reason out with the student saying that the caterer also runs a construction business and looks like there has been a mix-up.
C. promptly package it and send it to the Dean of Students and tom tom about your ability in handling difficult problems.
D. call the caterer and ask him about the secret formula.

(3) A student calls you at 10 pm complaining of severe stomach ache and thinks it is his appendix. As a warden, you:

A. grab the nearest pointed instrument and proceed to perform the surgery.
B. let the cook do the surgery instead.
C. offer to change your nameplate that reads ‘Dr. Jalihal’ to plain ‘Mr. Jalihal’.
D. advise him to get some sleep.

(4) The person at the other end of the phone introduces himself as an important government official of some large Indian state and request you not to send his son to some other hostel. He casually adds that he can arrange for a holiday for your family as government guests at his state. As a warden, you:

A. greedily ask if it is OK to bring your neighbor along.
B. calmly point out that it is a routine matter and he should not worry too much about it.
C. threaten to report this case of bribery to CVC.
D. testily tell him to take care of his large state first before poking his nose in to hostel matters.

(5) A cleaning staff barges into your office loudly complaining that his colleague called him ‘l..e ke b..l’ [A Hindi expletive used by teenagers but censored here as being unsuitable for this learned audience]. As a warden, you:

A. nod your head deprecating the use of Inthi in this Thamizh Nad.
B. offer to teach even more colorful Hindi expletives that you learned as a student a long, long time ago.
C. nod your head appreciating the progress made by Hindi speakers in spreading their expletives far and wide.
D. wisely point out that it just refers to human anatomy and as such it is not an insult.

(6) A group of students vociferously demand that rice not be served for breakfast. On inquiry, you find that on Tuesdays and Fridays, the breakfast consists of Pongal. As a warden, you:

A. sing virtues of traditional south Indian breakfast.
B. order the caterer to serve jalebi with lassi on Tuesdays and Samosa with Imli ka chutney on Fridays for breakfast.
C. following Kipling, remark that North is North and south is definitely south and the twain shall meet only at the Vindhyas.
D. rudely tell the students WYEIWYG (what you eat is what you get).

(7) Every afternoon on your way to the hostel office you pass by a number of rooms with the signboard “Sleeping. Don’t disturb” hanging on the door. As a warden, you:

A. gently wake them up and ask them to sleep in the class instead. With a grin on your face add that “you will also get attendance.”
B. decide wisely to let the sleeping dogs lie. [just an expression. No offense is meant to the students, especially the sleeping ones]
C. put on your best MS imitation and begin to sing “Utthishta Govinda Utthishta Garuda Dhwaja …” on the hostel PA system.
D. wake them up rudely and give them a lecture on the importance of attending classes.

(8) A worried student walks up to you complaining about the theft of his motor-bike. On enquiry, it turns out that the thief took the keys from his room and used that to steal his bike which was parked in the rented parking place outside the campus in Taramani village. As a warden, you:

A. loudly wonder at the ingenuity of the thief and feel sanguine about the future of the country.
B. shout at the student for keeping a bike despite the ban against that.
C. put on your academic hat and start calculating the smallest number of bikes the thief has to try the key on before hitting upon the correct bike.
D. decide to use this incident to illustrate some difficult concept in your probability class.

How did you fare?

If you answered ‘A’ to any question, give yourself 1 mark, 2 for ‘B’ and so on. There is no negative marking. If you scored more than 0, you are definitely warden material. Call the Dean of Students for an appointment. Good luck!

Note that all situations described here are true incidents. Only the options A-D are my creations. It is an attempt at humor. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t offend anybody.

– Devendra Jalihal

About the Author:

Dr. Devendra Jalihal is a Professor in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and a member of the TeNeT group at IIT Madras. He obtained his B.Tech. degree from IIT Kharagpur in 1983 and his PhD from Univ. of Duke, Durham, USA in 1992.

He joined the faculty at the Dept. of Electrical Engineering at IIT Madras in 1994. Dr. Jalihal loves teaching the fundamentals of Electrical Engineering such as Signals and Systems, and Communication Theory, in undergraduate courses.

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