By Abbas Ali Bohra, Anamika Agrawal, Anubhav Mangal, Rohan Satish Sablay
This article deals with not only the specific issue of the shifting of the H8 bus-stop, but also the larger issue of whether or not the institute authorities are liable to consult student representatives on any policy decisions that happen in the institute. Should the authorities necessarily keep us in the loop with regard to policy decisions or can they simply make whatever changes they wish independently?
As students trudged back to their hostels after the last year’s summer holidays, Hostel 8 junta had a nasty shock awaiting them. After years of enjoying the perks of having a Tum Tum bus stop right in front of their hostel, they returned to find that their precious bus stop had been shifted to a point to the right of Hostel 11 (towards the staff hostel). This change occurred without having given any prior intimation to the students (including the General Secretary Hostel Affairs(GSHA)), without any committee meeting to discuss the change or without asking for the students’ opinion. Before we delve into this further, a little background:
How were the current locations of the Tum Tum-stops decided?
When the Tum Tum system was first started, anyone who wished to use a Tum Tum needed to buy coupons that were available at all the hostels, main gate and few other spots. The then CSO, Mr. Vijay Kumar (who now serves as the SWS head) used the volumes of coupon sales from these spots to determine where to place the bus stops within the institute. At that time, he recorded no significant demand from Hostel 11 and the Staff Hostel, while seeing a sizeable sale of coupons from Hostel 8. He therefore decided that it would be best to place the tum tum stop right outside Hostel 8.
Motivation behind the change:
The demand distribution today is different. The demand from Hostel 11 and the staff hostel has steadily grown to the extent that it now exceeds the demand from Hostel 8 by a fair amount. Along with this, a new daycare has been started at the staff hostel which is open from 7AM to 7PM. Staff come at various times of the day to drop off their children at the daycare. Mr. Vijay Kumar had received written requests from some parents that the stop was quite far from the staff hostel and was potentially dangerous for their young children. So Mr.Vijay Kumar decided that based on these two reasons, he would shift the bus stop closer to the staff hostel, somewhere between it and Hostel 11 and the bus-stop was shifted without further ado.
InsIghT spoke to the different stakeholders who were involved in this incident to get their perspective on what had transpired in this matter:
Chandra Mouli, GSHA
Chandra Mouli, General Secretary Hostel Affairs:
While he had been receiving similar complaints from staff regarding the position of the bus stop no action was taken by him at the time. The idea to shift the bus stop had been brought up once in a meeting once before, but no final decision was taken at that time. Mouli believes that it Mr. Vijay Kumar chose to move forward with this as it was a very small move in his opinion and he did not expect the severe backlash it generated.
Rashmi Choudhary, G.Sec. H11
Rashmi Choudhary, General Secretary, Hostel 11: A number of inmates of Hostel 11 wanted the bus stop to be shifted as girls are in general uncomfortable going till H8 only to find the Tum Tum perennially crowded with guys. After the stop was shifted, the Hostel 8 G.Sec. approached her in a bid to revert the stop to its original position. But she refused due to what was perceived as lack of empathy shown by the boys towards a problem faced by the girls especially when the adjustment was a minor one. Finally she agreed by mutual consensus to shift the stop in between to a location agreeable to all involved. She did however concede that the stop change did not make things better for the Hostel 11 inmates; they still found the Tum Tums crowded and infrequent most of the time.
Mr.Vijay Kumar (Head – Student Welfare Society):
Having received the complaints, Mr. Vijay Kumar felt the need to address them but he did not want to increase the number of bus stops in the institute. Also, seeing that the demand for tum tums was now greater from Hostel 11, he felt that he was justified in shifting the stop. He never thought that the issue would snowball into such a big scandal as he felt students would not mind walking a few extra metres. But on seeing the backlash of his decision from Hostel 8, after some back and forthing he agreed to shift the stop to a position exactly in between Hostel 8 and the staff hostel provided all the Hostel GSecs agreed. He accepted that his taking the decision to shift the H8 bus stop to in front of H11 without consulting the Student Welfare Society was a mistake and takes responsibility for the episode.
In conclusion, now that the tum tum stop has been shifted back to a neutral and mutually agreed upon location, we can say that the issue has finally been brought to a happy ending. But this incident has left a number questions that beg to be answered. Why is it that although the decision to shift the bus stop in the first place took such a short while, but the decision to shift it back took so long? Why did all the G.Sec.s need to be consulted in a meeting, if they were not consulted before? The helipads on the gymkhana ground were a similar story, where the needs and opinions of the students were disregarded. While these are hopefully one off cases that occurred under extenuating circumstances, it is hoped that such a cavalier attitude among the authorities does not become commonplace.
This article was originally published