Editor: Neha Anand | Design: Siri Chandana and Prashanth
While insti is in the process of calling back final year DD, MA, PG and MBA students, T5E interacted with some of the senior junta to get some insights into the call-back process, life at post-pandemic insti, and to understand some of their common issues and concerns.
In conversation with the final years who were called back, it was found that though many of them were enthusiastic about returning to insti for one last time, there were a considerable number of students who refrained from returning too. T5E decided to probe into the call-back process initiated by the insti admin as well as the reasons for students choosing to stay back home.
Though there were varied opinions on the level of comfort with the process undertaken by the admin in calling back the final-year students, almost everybody agreed that the process lacked transparency and the students were not kept in the loop of the decisions taken by the institute.
“The mail came around the end of July. It was kind of abrupt- asking us if we want to return and inquired about our vaccination status. This was followed by a confirmation email to those who were vaccinated.”A student who returned to campus in the first batch.
The dissemination of further details was broken, which added to the anxiety of the students. There was no information regarding the number of batches in which the students would be called and whether the students would get future opportunities to return to insti if they decided to stay back home for the time being. Students were quite clueless about the technicalities of the quarantine period and the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place at the institute. This lack of transparency along with the very short buffer period made it incredibly tough for the students to take a decision on the return and prepare themselves for the travel to insti, not to mention the obvious concerns regarding the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country and the potential for insti to become a hotspot yet again.
In the process of uncovering the ground reality at insti, T5E discovered that the accommodation, the food facilities and the quarantine period, despite being a tough fourteen-day ordeal, was arranged very systematically by the admin.
Whatsapp groups were made to interact with the students about concerns and difficulties faced and all issues reported were duly taken care of by the hostel admin.
Some also expressed food wastage as a concern during the quarantine period as they were given much more food than was required and most of them were unable to do justice to the portions provided to them. Apart from the extreme boredom that they had to endure, they reported that the quarantine period was handled smoothly.
“I’d call it – boring but not too bad. I got a room that had pigeon eggs outside. That was my only entertainment besides gadgets. Food and facilities were fine during quarantine. My only gripe is that we didn’t get coffee,” claimed a final-year BE student who survived the quarantine ordeal.
The transfer to their respective hostels was also considerably trouble-free, though many of them found their rooms in turmoil. There were termites, bugs and a variety of other friends of nature that had nestled comfortably in the hostel rooms that had been unoccupied for the past 17 months.
Post quarantine, there was some amount of normalcy that was restored at the institute, but COVID-19 restrictions still persisted in the mess for the benefit of all. Each meal was divided into three slots of around 35 minutes each and the tables had allocated seats – implying that a student was allocated a specific slot and seat to dine in for every meal. However, such stringent restrictions are often ignored. The only thing that the admin diligently checked for was crowding- not more than two or three people on a table, but even this is not maintained in some other eateries.
The unavailability of food at night has also affected the well-known nightlife at insti which validates the feeling of the students: “insti is not the same anymore.”
Should I return or not?
A recent T5E Instagram poll showed that nearly 30% of the 150 respondents would perhaps not go back to insti if they were given a choice.
On inquiring about the reasons for the general disinclination to return among the final years, loneliness, quarantine restrictions, lack of access to sports and gym facilities, sub-par food at the mess and the knowledge that insti would not be the same as before were some of the reasons that were commonly agreed upon by all those who chose to stay back home.
Some of the students chose to stay back because they felt that the few courses they had pending could be easily managed within the comfort of their homes while tackling the stress and anxiety of the placement season with the support of family. Others were advised by their guides to not return due to the restricted access to lab facilities as the PG students are prioritized in lab access.
Despite these restrictions, many did decide to return in order to seek closure for their life at insti. They were frustrated with having to stare at screens for long hours of time and missed human interactions.
Students Speak: What can the admin do better?
Most of the final years agreed that calling the students batch-wise was the only way forward considering the constant, lingering worry about COVID-19 cases but they felt that there was a lot of room for improvement in the process.
Besides making the process more transparent, the admin could have provided a bit more flexibility for the students by floating a preference form well in advance to choose a date for returning, which would have made it much more comfortable for them to plan their return.
In spite of being vaccinated and having a negative RT-PCR test halfway through quarantine, students still had to go through the entire 14 days quarantine period. Most of them suggested that in such cases. if the quarantine period is reduced to a week or 5 days, the admin might be able to increase the pace of unlocking insti. The students who were uncertain about the safety at insti suggested that the admin make it mandatory for the students to complete two doses of vaccination in order to return to campus.
Instead of directing resources towards calling back students who were very clear on their decision to not return, insti could provide the same opportunity to other final year students, or even junior batches who would benefit from accessing on-campus resources for their academic work.– Insti junta consensus.
While things do look grim with restrictions and a very slow-paced unlocking that is not to the likes of most, it was commonly agreed upon that if the restrictions were followed religiously with students having completed two doses of vaccine, insti will, for sure, regain its original life and vibe in a gradual, phased manner.
T5E thanks the students acknowledged below for their time in helping us out with this article! And to those planning or considering their return to insti – we hope this has been useful.
Aditya P, HS17
Ajayraj P, HS17
Ajmal Hussain, HS17
Akash Haridas, AE17
Anonymous BT17, ME17
Dorothy Z K, HS17
Gowri S, HS17
Karthika S, HS17
Kavya K N, HS17
Pranjali Vatsalaya, EE17
Saarthak Marathe, ME17
Sathvik A, BS17
Sharayu Shejale, HS17
Sooryakiran P, ME17
Soumithra M S, HS17
Unnikrishnan P V, ME17