No change to IIT Kanpur hostel rules if students register "unanimous opposition". How the students won their battle

The students, in a statement, said that their issues have either been lost, diluted, trivialised, ignored or coerced away
Students protesting at the stadium at IIT Kanpur (Pic: Sourced)
Students protesting at the stadium at IIT Kanpur (Pic: Sourced)

The students of IIT Kanpur had organised a peaceful protest on campus against the recommendations to alter the hostel or Hall of Residencies rules. After an almost 24-hour-long protest, they won. The administration has said that if there is "unanimous opposition" from the student representatives at the Senate, then the document will not be discussed and will be sent for "consultation to various stakeholders".

Why were they protesting?
The students, in a statement, said that their issues have either been "lost, diluted, trivialised, ignored or coerced away". And the recommendations by the committee on revising the rules and guidelines for the Hall of Residencies is an example of that, they said. "We refer here to the recommendations on drastically altering rules and procedures for IIT K’s Hall of Residences. From regressive policies of gender segregation, elimination of minimum wage of hostel workers, to the mixing of academic and residential policies that withhold grades and interfere with a professor’s autonomy. None of these issues were brought up by students, nor did they receive unanimous support from student representatives," read a statement from the students or as they put it, the "unheard and unrepresented students of IIT Kanpur".

What were the recommendations?
The committee recommended a set of changes after almost 30 years. The committee proposed that disciplinary actions, even for residential matters, can entail serious punishment, like withholding grades or not letting students sit for exams or even cancellation of registration. The warden would have the power to dissolve the Hall Executive Committee (HEC), which has elected student representatives. Students staying beyond their stipulated time will have to share rooms mandatorily. If they are non-residents of the hall, students of the opposite gender will not be allowed to enter rooms. At present, they are allowed visitation from 8 am to 11 pm. As a matter of fact, no one but parents, guardians and siblings would be allowed. It also mentioned that the Dean of Student Affairs' (DOSA) office will not be recruiting hall and mess workers and everything will be the responsibility of the contractor.

The students called it regressive and said that it is hard to envision a reality in which IIT Kanpur can continue to harbour academic freedom and excellence.

Well, if all the student representatives opposed the recommendations, then the document will be sent for reconsideration. The DOSA confirmed this at a meeting with the students. "When it is sent for consultation to various stakeholders, the student representatives like the Gymkhana President, Chairperson of the Students' Senate, Hall Presidents, CoSHA Convener and all others, will ensure that the document does not go through and all the points which are problematic are removed. We will also ensure that when this document comes to various channels for discussions, the general body members will also be involved in taking opinions on the document and the actions will be taken accordingly," said Vedaant Sikka, President, Students' Gymkhana of the IIT Kanpur.

But the discussion had even taken a rough turn and the students apologised. "This marks a successful protest and also shows that the IIT Kanpur community will always come together for issues that are of huge concern. Although the disrespect shown to the DOSA by some students by heckling, repeated interruptions, etc., is strongly condemned and does not represent the student culture of IIT Kanpur. As a community, we abide by the practice of questioning the facilitators and our peers with due respect," said Vedaant.

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