Dean’s Reply to Students

There has been a lot of fuss among the student community regarding the reopening of campus and warning mail sent to students for filling the resource-constrained form not intended for them. Awaaz reached out to the Dean of Student Affairs to inquire about the concerns of the student community and got the administration’s stance regarding various issues in detail. Here, we present the responses we have received from the Dean.

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Awaaz – The survey form for resource-constrained students was sent on March 27, 2021, in which students with genuine issues and an urgent need to return to campus were asked to fill the same. Unfortunately, some students have come under this category after the tragic second wave of coronavirus. We feel that instead of relying on the survey sent five months ago, this form should be circulated to the students again for a fresh set of responses, and their situation should be re-evaluated to bring back more batches of resource-constrained students.

Dean – To prepare a list of resource-constrained students, we have not entirely relied on the entries of resource-constrained form circulated on March 27th, 2021. Besides that, the Office of Dean-SA, Vice President-TSG, UG and PG Representatives were receiving a series of mails (mostly from students who had missed the constraint for resources form), whereby students had explained about the hardships they were facing. Subsequently, on the basis of proper verification, availability of vacancy, and relative prioritization of the individual’s needs, a limited number of them were included in the resource-constrained recalling list. This has been done keeping in mind the maximum cap of the number of students who may be called, as decided by Director IIT Kharagpur in his July 5, 2021 meeting with student representatives and other concerned officials.

Firstly, it should be noted that there was no official notification regarding mailing anyone if one is resource-constrained. For the resource constrained students, three batches comprising over 350 students have already been called back to campus on 1-4 July, 17-21 July and 1-4 September, respectively. Also, the next batch is scheduled for 11-14 September.

Awaaz – For the proof of being resource-constrained, we want to inquire how the genuineness of the responses has been checked for identifying students who are in real need. There can be cases where the students fill forged information of their situation but still get called, which might have imposed a direct opportunity cost on someone who has an urgent need.

Dean – While evaluating the responses received, the assessors have not entirely relied on the data provided. Several students have been called over on phone and cross-checked about the genuineness of the data provided by them. Students were selected as Resource Constraint from the “objective information” collected through a survey coupled with the “subjective satisfaction” of assessors about their real need to come to campus.

We will nonetheless initiate proper action if any student is found to have provided any forged document or suppressed any real fact. Moreover, it must be emphasized that it is indeed disheartening to learn from your esteemed forum that some of the IIT Kharagpur students might have stooped so low as to have forged their documents, which brings shame to not only those specific students but also to the entire student community and probably more so on us, the faculty, who might not have been able to inculcate the values of being a righteous individual although all of them are intelligent and bright individuals who have happened to crack the JEE and enter the hallowed premises of this Institute. I hope your forum takes up the lead in serving as an ideal platform to motivate the Institute’s student community from uplifting themselves from this abysmal degradation of morality if there is any.

Having collected information from the students who had been permitted to come to the campus, some of them said that they did not receive any call for verification from any of the student authorities.

Awaaz – In the mail from the Vice President dated 28 August in which the form was sent, there was no proper mention of who shall fill the form. Some people, to whom the mail was not sent, had still filled the form and contacted the Student Council regarding it. Though the form was being spammed in WhatsApp groups, there had been cases where the student filled it as they were resource-constrained now. Considering their plea to be called back on campus, is it justifiable to call for such strict actions against them?

Dean – In the first and second batch of the resource-constrained students, some of the students could not fill the form. Additionally, meanwhile, we were also receiving many emails from students, out of which some of the students were selected as resource-constrained based on the proofs submitted by them. Hence, this group of students was mailed so as to assess their willingness to come in the fourth batch. Hence, mail was intended to be served on the intended recipient.

By the way, the intention of our mail has been to sensitize these students from the pitfalls of the illegitimate and misuse of the digital platforms. As is known to any informed individual of today’s world (and we expect that from a student of an IIT, in the least), that anything and everything circulated via WhatsApp may not be a verified fact or an official statement. On the face of it, a person trusting a WhatsApp message over a genuine official email issued from a verified email account from an authorized sender reflects his or her gullibility and may, indeed, lead to far greater negative consequences. I hope the team members of your esteemed platform would agree with me that by filling up random forms received through WhatsApp or such, a person may get duped into sharing his or her very important data with impostors sharing similar messages on WhatsApp group or for that matter any social media platform, posing as an authentic representative of an organization.

Nevertheless, we have decided not to take any strict action against these students at the moment, assuming this to be their first offense of this kind.

Regarding this reply, we would like to reiterate that forms, sheets, documents, or any file “forwarded” through social media platforms cannot be trusted at any cost unless it comes through an Official Page or handles of the Institute or Organisation or through mails. Information filled in these “unverified” forms can be used against the one who has filled the form. We would also like to request the student community to be patient during these uncertain times and not forward the forms mentioned in the mails sent to them unless given the freedom.

Awaaz – A survey form was released on 13 July, 2021, by the esteemed Dean, Student Affairs, regarding the vaccination status of the students, which would help in formulating any plan to call back the students. We also want to inquire about action that has been taken based on inputs obtained from this survey.

Dean – The vaccination survey has inspired confidence in us that students’ are gradually vaccinating themselves. Based on this, it was decided that from October, we will start calling final year PG and final year M.Sc students who have been put on the priority list to be called back. We have started to take the necessary steps in this regard. As of now, we are calling only the fully vaccinated students.

It is true that steps are being taken by administration to call back the Post Graduate students; a statement regarding this was made by the Director in Welcome Programme for the Newly Admitted Postgraduate Students. However, even the Undergraduate Students’ and Research Scholars’ laboratory work and practical skills should be considered so that they are not called too late. The UG, PG and RS students should be prioritised equally.

We appreciate the replies given by the Dean of Student Affairs to bridge the gap between students and the Administration. Efforts taken by the Administration to consider the vaccination status and issue of resource constraints are perceptible. We hope for the situation to ease out as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we request the student community to be patient and cooperate with the Administration as they are calling the students back in phases.