Who cares for us students?

January 7, 2009 at 7:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

I just heard on IRC that 2 students died in NIT Jaipur within a span of 3 days. There is no sadder news than that. The sons/daughters of some parents, who maybe poor, and maybe the child was their only hope.
My best friend studies in VIT Vellore. He said that there is a suicide there every 2 weeks or so (not sure about the truth of that) and not a single news comes in the paper. The most recent case was that of a brilliant sudent, who is a 9 pointer there and was also the SUN campus ambassador. The administration and the police there are in bed. The security guards there are the police force in a sense. They deal with the body swiftly and hand over to the police.
In NIT Jaipur’s case, and VIT Vellore also, the administration is known to be extremely strict and unforgiving. That is characterised by hard to score grades, many failures/year backs, and a weak or a lack of a student union. NIT Jaipur’s director is also a professor at IIT Delhi and he is known to have many important contacts. The professors there are dictators and student union is entirely banned. Now all that maybe ok by some people’s standards, but then at this time in particular when the tech sector is badly hit by recession, and there are little jobs, and depression among the students is very high even in good NITs IITs, an unforgiving academic schedule and arrogant administration may be a death blow. I hear that there was not even a notice that informed people about it or a ceremony to commemorate the deceased.
Fortunately, my institute is not as merciless or senseless. We do have a student union and we use it properly. There has been no suicides here till date (one happened at the guys home, and his body was brought to the college so we could pay him our respects). Last year, a brilliant senior, selected at Columbia University died in a bike accident and we had a ceremony for that also.
Getting good grades here is easy and when there are mass failures or some professor acting crazy, we protest in a united fashion and get him removed/demoted. Now that may sound like politicisation of education to you, but it is basically just having a sensible eco system in the institute.
To be specific, my department is very special. Most professors are young and so cool. We are, touch wood, very close to our professors and we share our problems with them.
We have no harsh punishments and we have no time limit for entering or leaving the college premises. Girls are supposed to enter the college gates at 10 PM but a little late is no issue.
Our college has had a pretty bloody history in the times of naxalism, and it has taught the administration not to take students lightly.
I feel sorry for colleges like VIT or NIT Jaipur, and after living in a free atmosphere here for 3 years, i wonder how i would have reacted if i were a student in one of these jails (thats what i call VIT when i talk to my friend). What I do know is, it would have made me mad. To hide a students tragic death is like
saying “We dont care about the cause that killed him”. To not remember him in a ceremony with grieving with his loved ones is like saying “He just came here to earn a nice job, we dont care about his name or his identity, he is just another guy”. It is a administrators resposnibility to control the atmosphere of the classroom through the activity of teachers, and students if possible. Somehow, these people think we are the enemy.
But that is just one part of the problem. The students are too damn weak, that is the 2nd part. The least one could do is fine an RTI. It was done by an IIT Kanpur alumni enquiring about the recent suicides there. They had to come out with a proper report about the causes of the suicides and it was good to see that they did make an honest report.
To turn a blind eye to these cases is to put your childre’s future in jeopardy in one of these jails. We say freedom in the foss line so much, and yet we bow down to subservience so easily in all other walks of life. We are weak, thats the reason, nothing else. Its easy to blog about freedom and apply it to software, but it is more difficult to fight people in the real world, but it still has to be done, like we do here, and win.
I hope i am in a position some day to ask these directors of institutes to treat students properly. They spend money watering the plants and the grass, and dont give a damn about the students mental weel being. I know from personal experince, councelling helps a lot. That is the least an institute can do for students at difficult time like these.
May their souls rest in peace, and more importantly, i hope their deaths changes the minds of the powerful.

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1 Comment

  1. anomit said,

    Very nice observations there. I really hope things change for the better. Regardless, the students too need to stand up for themselves.

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