Published: 17th August 2020
As hostel needs whitewash, DU women students asked to come back to Delhi to vacate rooms ASAP
Those who have already vacated the hostel will be refunded two months’ mess fees and monthly fees, but will be charged a mutually agreed-upon sum for the period of occupation of the room
The residents of the University of Delhi's (DU) Undergraduate Hostel for Girls (UGHG) have been asked to vacate their hostel rooms as soon as possible so that the rooms can be whitewashed. But the students have already gone home and are not willing to "risk getting infected" to come back to Delhi.
The first notice from Provost Rita Kakkar, which was posted on their online portal on August 16 said that the students have to pay Rs 1000 per month or Rs 40 per day, whichever is less, till the time they vacate their room. But the Provost, in the notice that was put up the next day, August 17, said that there was a misunderstanding and that the students will not have to pay anything more. The amount will be deducted from their refund for the two months that they were not at the hostel. "Some of you have misunderstood the notice. We are not demanding anything extra from you. but only some adjustment in the amount to be refunded," read the notice. "As you are aware, the lockdown came suddenly on all of us. Thankfully, you were all able to leave the hostel safely. We were required to pay full salaries to the staff during the lockdown period. Also, all the security and housekeeping staff had to be retained. The electricity bills for the common areas also need to be paid. Some skeletal staff is required to keep the hostel running. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain all this in the absence of any inputs. Since you have not vacated the rooms, we have to maintain security and housekeeping to ensure that your belongings are safe. During the pandemic, the staff is also facing a lot of difficulty and need your support. Please discuss among yourselves and decide a reasonable sum to be deducted from the refund for the period of occupation of the hostel room," it further explained.
Those who have already vacated the hostel will be refunded two months’ mess fees (and rebates, wherever applicable), two months’ monthly fees, but will be charged a mutually agreed-upon sum for the period of occupation of the room, said the notice and added that the hostel staff has been instructed to initiate the refund process for the girls who have already vacated the hostel.
But the issue of coming back to Delhi to clear their rooms, still remains. DU has students from across the country and not just from the Tier I and II cities but from remote areas as well. The students are concerned that they will not be able to travel to Delhi as it would be a financial burden as well. "My district is in a red zone in Kerala. There are more than 1720 cases here and more are being reported every day. It's not possible for us to go outside risking our lives as infection rate and fatality rate are increasing every day. Besides, it will take three days to reach Delhi and it's economically not possible for us to go there spending more than Rs 10,000 in this situation," said a student of Hindu College who is pursuing BA Political Science and is in her second year. "While the government is trying to reduce cases and asking us to stay home I don't understand why the hostel authorities are issuing such non-accommodative and insensitive notices. What happens if I get infected and in turn infect my family?" she asked.
Coming back to the hostel amidst the pandemic and putting our lives at risk would be foolishness, said one of the students from Himachal Pradesh. "Even if I manage to go I'll not be allowed entry to my state and I'll be under institutionalised quarantine for 14 days. They forcefully told us to leave in the month of March stating our safety concerns as their priority and now suddenly the safety concerns have vanished," said the student.
The students vacate the hostels at the end of each year but this time the situation is different, said Dewanshi, a student who hails from Uttar Pradesh. "Usually, we start the process (of vacating the hostels) in January and courier our belongings home. Now, if we have to bring all our luggage together it will be a hassle. Especially for those who stay far away. The issue of a refund is also pertinent. The notice says that we can decide what sum can be deducted but then neither the Provost nor the other officials are ever available for a chat," she added.
A similar incident happened in St Stephen's College in June but only 40 per cent of the students have vacated so far. "Approximately 40 per cent of the hostellers (including final year students) have cleared the rooms. The administration had said that it would consider the matter for the rest but we haven't heard from them yet," said Suchintan Das, a student at the college.