MIT’s first-year student ‘grouped’ with seniors to avoid ragging

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There was a time, not very long ago, that ragging was rampant in many engineering institutes. In a bid to curb this menace, some institutes banned absolutely any sort of communication between senior students and first years. These measures are still in place at a few engineering institutes in India. Madras Institute of Technology, unlike a few engineering institutes, doesn’t prohibit the first year students to meet their seniors. As a matter of fact, students in their freshman year are assigned a senior to help him/her with anything, and everything.

The program called the ‘T-series’ originated from the word ‘Technocrat’. Each new technocrat (student) of the institute is assigned to a mentor from the previous batch. The task of assigning mentors to the first years is done on the basis of a T-number. “The ‘T-number’ is nothing but a combination of the student’s batch number, his department code, and his roll number. This way there will be one person in each year with same code.” explains Pranab S, a final year student in MIT. This number can be tracked right to the first batch of the students ever since MIT was established decades ago.

The students with the same T-number are grouped and, the mentor who is in the fourth year is as good as ‘bade bhaiya‘. “Right from passing on books, preparation before placements, notes during the exam to going for movies, the mentor has to include the junior in every possible activity.” says Amudan T, another final year.

But does this system actually work for first years? “They pull our legs, but it’s all in good fun,” laughed a first-year student in the aeronautical engineering department. He added that there is never any serious ragging. ”We feel like a close knit group and personally, the seniors do act in a responsible way, despite all the fun. It is much better than not knowing who students in other years are at all.”  

PaGaLGuY spoke to Prof. A Rajadurai, Dean at MIT about this program. “The idea was to make the institute environment-friendly for the first years. Instead of prohibition, giving the seniors some amount of responsibility seemed to be a better idea. Students like being in charge, and I have always believed in empowering students with responsibilities.” he said. It indeed seems like a better idea, because there have been no incidents of ragging reported in the last 6 years.

Rather than bans, grouping the students and making them responsible and accountable seems to be working in a much better way for students in MIT. What’s surprising is that, at an age where students are considered grown-ups and capable enough to fend for themselves, they are being assigned to another student who is just a year older for protection from ragging. There is either a blanket ban on communication or babysitting like arrangement to protect 18-year-olds, from students hardly a year or two older. Despite progressing in various hemispheres like academics and co-curricular activities, ragging still seems to haunt not just the students but also the management of engineering institutes.

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