IIT Madras rejects request to retain wellness centre MITR; student head resigns

After the announcement of the dissolution of the wellness centre on November 30,  ChintaBAR, a student collective at IIT Madras raised concerns regarding the dissolution
Read here | Credit: Express
Read here | Credit: Express

A few weeks after the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras announced its decision to dissolve the institution’s wellness centre MITR, the students of IIT Madras received an email on Monday, December 18, from the core team of MITR, informing them that their request to reconsider this decision has been rejected by the institute.

As per the email, the core team’s request was rejected on the grounds of a seven-month-old newspaper article mentioning the shortcomings of the dissolved Wellness Centre. It added that they were not informed by the decision of the institute.

“The removal of the institute-appointed psychologists happened during a critical period, amidst the end semesters and placement season, when students undergo much stress! Disturbingly, as a peer-counselling student body that works in tandem with psychologists, MITR was not intimated about the dissolution, thus leaving us uncertain about how to handle the existing cases and new requests for help. Long story short, the current decision has dismantled a student support ecosystem we were trying to establish, putting in much effort during the past few months,” the email from MITR read.

To recall, after the announcement of the dissolution of the wellness centre on November 30, ChintaBAR, a student collective at IIT Madras had raised concerns regarding the dissolution. The letter mentioned that this sudden transition has raised several concerns among both the students at the receiving end of the existing wellness centre and the MITR (wellness centre) team.

Speaking about the issue, a member of ChintaBAR and a student from IIT Madras, told EdexLive, “The wellness centre was established due to an increasing number of student suicides and a series of protests that were launched on campus urging mental health interventions for students earlier this year. One of the concerns raised by the students was that there was no transparency in certain ways that the wellness centre was functioning. Students demanded confidentiality and no faculty involvement in the wellness centre.”

Citing the need for confidentiality and privacy demanded by the students, the institute took the decision to dismantle the wellness centre and restructure it into a new one operated by a third party.

“Five members who were working in the wellness centre have all been arbitrarily suspended by the institute. The institute promised that there would be a smooth transition between the old and new wellness centre which is not practical. In the last 20 days, no smooth transition happened. Even the MITR team was not intimidated about the entire thing,” the student added.

ChintaBAR also urged the IITM administration to organise a town hall meeting to address the student concerns, in a statement dates December 20.

MITR student head resigns

The student head of the wellness centre also shared an email earlier this week, announcing his resignation from the institute’s wellness centre.

“Unfortunately, with the recent removal of the wellness centre psychologists, the support system of MITR has come to a standstill. We find ourselves in a situation where we are advised only to redirect students to existing campus facilities, rendering the very purpose of MITR futile. I personally feel that I am no longer in a position to offer meaningful support to my fellow mates as the Mitr head,” the email read.

Student feedback

A detailed feedback, with as many as 174 student responses, was submitted to the IIT Madras administration by the students and MITR team earlier this month, urging them to reconsider their decision.

The document, which EdexLive has access to, contains feedback on all five psychologists at IIT Madras’ wellness centre given by the students who have either taken counselling from the psychologists or been to the wellness centre.

Students pointed out that a majority of students had given positive feedback and have even urged the administration to keep the centre in its original form.

“The psychologist who helped us in our traumatic conditions, I stand beside them. I would say they would be given some kind of backup for sometime. And the decision of MITR collapse is cruelty on the students who are facing unwelcome mental issues. I hope the committee would continue MITR with certain modifications like feedback on students reported to them or close friends, standard personality trainers,etc,” a feedback read.

Related Stories

No stories found.