Facing “Severe” Space Crunch, IIT-B Asks PhD Students to Vacate Hostel Rooms, Share Room with Juniors by Dec-End; Students Protest Move

The institute has cited an old rule where PhD students are allowed hostel accommodation only for five years while previous batches have stayed up to six years
(File Photo)

On Friday, students impacted by the directive staged a protest outside the main building of IIT-B followed by a silent march throughout the campus

At least 400-500 PhD scholars at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay have been asked to vacate their single occupancy hostel rooms and instead shift to shared occupancy rooms by the last week of December by the institute’s administration citing “severe” space crunch – a move that has been met by silent marches and protest demonstrations by a group of these students on campus. This is yet another point of confrontation the students have run into with the institute of late followed by the recent protests over new rules for organising “political” events on campus and “segregation” of non-vegetarian tables at the hostel mess.

In a directive issued and reiterated via separate email communications, by the institute’s hall managers as well as associate dean students’ affairs, from November 8 to November 24, all PhD scholars of 2018 batches (July and December) have been asked to vacate their hostel rooms and shift to shared occupancy.

“As per orders of the competent authority, all 2018 PhD students (joined in December 2018/January 2019) are required to shift to double occupancy in Hostel 4/Tansa/Hostel 12 by the last week of December 2023, for one semester. Limited shared rooms are available in H12 (for boys)/Hostel 10 (old wing) (for girls)”, which will be available on first-cum-first serve basis,” read one of the emails by the hall manager, hostel 12. (The email has been seen by News18).

Students affected by the directive sat on a protest demonstration outside the main building for the second consecutive day on Friday, which was followed by a silent march across campus. Calling the move “abrupt”, a group of research scholars from affected hostels – 12, 13, 14 and 18 (for boys) and 10 and 11 (for girls) said the institute has cited an old rule where PhD students are allowed hostel accommodation only for five years while previous batches have stayed up to six years.

Also, the protesting students maintain that the mess bill data clearly shows that there are over 270 vacant rooms in at least three hostels. “This is an arbitrary way of evicting us while the institute has not released official data on the vacant rooms available. At this crucial stage, PhD students need to work till late at night and give interviews which can definitely not be done in the presence of a roommate, as it may disturb the other person and his/her work,” said a research scholar, requesting anonymity.

According to rules, PhD students get a research stipend from the union government for five years and are allowed hostel accommodation for the same time while IIT-Bombay allows one year more to students to complete their research work.

However, as per an email sent to students on Friday, the institute citing a “severe” space crunch asked scholars to move to shared occupancy to make room for the incoming batches. The directive also asks PhD scholars to “strictly comply with the emails sent by respective hall managers as far as shifting to shared accommodation/vacating the room is concerned.”

“While it is our endeavour to provide every student with an individual room…students must keep in mind that we currently have a severe shortage of rooms, for two main reasons. First, an increase in number of student intake due to implementation of EWS quota and female supernumerary seats as well as increase in the number of PhD students overall. Second, we have lost three hostels (H-7, H-8 and old wings of H-4), which had to be demolished due to structural safety issues,” stated an email communication issued on Friday by the Associate Dean, Student Affairs, Atul Srivastava to PhD students.

A students’ collective participating in the protest, however, contested the first reason cited by the institute while maintaining that data shared by the government in a recent RTI response received by them shows that reservation rules were not followed and there was no such increase in the average intake per year.

“We demand the withdrawal of the abrupt rule at the earliest possible and a continuation of the convention of 6 years of single occupancy accommodation for these two batches, followed by a double occupancy stay till PhD defense. Also, the institute must conduct an open house session at the earliest where the concerns of all students can be raised,” read a statement by the protesting students.

News18 reached out to IIT-Bombay administration over the issue. This story will be updated when and if a response is received.

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