Arita Sarkar and Vikrant Dadawala
Students face penalties for minor infractions like feeding stray dogs on campus to serious offences such as possessing marijuana or alcohol.
Students of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay facing the prospect of paying weighty fines for violating college rules are relying on their seniors to bail them out of trouble. Rather than cadge money from their parents, students are relying on the munificence of IIT B alumni to help pay penalties for minor infractions like feeding stray dogs on campus (Rs 500) and serious offences such as possessing marijuana or alcohol (Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000).
An M-Tech student of computer science told Mumbai Mirror that instead of telling parents about the fines, we borrow the money from seniors who have already got placements and will pay them back when we find jobs. Though most students currently engaged in studies at the institution did not wish to comment on this practice, several were willing to commit to the record that community service was a better punitive measure than fines.
Other stratagems employed by students hew to conventional practices: money required for impending birthday celebrations, mummy-I-brokemy-drum-kit, and befriending (and bribing) guards to avoid the registration of a formal complaint and hence prevent the payment of fines. Once your ID card number has been noted, theres no way of escaping the fine. The trick is to avoid reaching that stage -speaking to the security officer in Marathi or telling him its your first birthday as an adult are good ideas. If we dont misbehave then they let us through, said a fourth year student.
According to a recent article in the campus newsletter, the policy of monetary fines, introduced in 2007, was developed to serve as a middle path between letting students off with a warning or having them face the Disciplinary Action Committee. But with fine amounts ranging up to Rs 10,000, students said the policy may end up being unfair to students from middleclass or poor backgrounds, while failing to serve as an adequate deterrent to students from rich backgrounds.
Anshul Awasthi, editor of the newsletter, said, There are no guidelines and the fines imposed are completely arbitrary. While Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 will not seem too heavy a burden for students from wealthy families, in other cases it will be the parents who will have to suffer for the faults of their children.
Instead, according to added Chirag Chadha, another editor at the newsletter, believe community service could prove to be a better deterrent as well as a good way of ensuring that erring students give something back to the IIT community. Abbas Ali Bohra, general secretary of the student council, agreed. The system is inequitable and if community service is proved to be a better solution, the student council will happily support it, he said.
A senior IIT B administration officer told Mumbai Mirror that the fines were introduced following a series of bad experiences.
Violations including consuming alcohol and arguing with the security all levy a fine, he said. For smaller offences like bringing and feeding animals in the hostels, we do warn the students before we impose the fine to discourage them from repeating. The official added that motorised vehicles were banned on campus in 2003 after a student met with an accident and died.
Urijit Yajnik, dean of student affairs said, The students have a forum to voice their opinions. If they have complaints with the fines being imposed, they can convey it to us through their student representatives.
PENALTY CHART, COMPILED BY IIT-B STUDENTS
Rs 300-500: Feeding dogs within a 15m radius of the hostel
Rs 1,000-2,000: Destroying furniture or defacing walls
Rs 2,000: Carrying or consuming alcohol or drugs
Rs 5,000: Repeat offences related to banned substances
Rs 10,000 +: Rarely invoked, for serious offences. Committing the same violation multiple times could also lead to the fine.
AT OTHER COLLEGES
Tata Institute of Social Sciences: Students are apparently fined Rs 500 if cigarettes are found in their hostel rooms and Rs 1,000 if alcohol is discovered. Students found drunk may be asked cough up Rs 2,500. But students said officials rarely impose fines amounting of over Rs 1,000.
Somaiya College: Students living in hostels face a range of penalties. A student who takes a leave of absence from the hostel without informing officials can be fined Rs 250. If the student remains absent for the second day, the amount increases to 500. If a student turns up drunk at the hostel, he/she will face a fine of Rs 500. Alcohol possession directly leads to a call to parents, who are then required to sign an undertaking.
A penalty of Rs 250 to Rs 500 is imposed on hostel members who regularly miss prayer meetings. There is also a strict dress code policy.
We are not allowed to wear short clothes as its a co-ed hostel. Breaking the rule can lead to fines of Rs 250 to Rs 500, another student said.
Around 120 female students and 300 male students live in the hostel.
Somaiya College officials, however, denied imposing any penalties.