Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mummy-Daddy Mentality

Amit Varma ripped IIMT a new one, with his post on this TOI article:

"Most young people may have got all romantic this Valentine’s Day, but for this technical institute it was all about brotherly and sisterly love. In what can probably be described as a celebration of V-Day in the spirit of Bhai Dooj, the Ishan Institute of Management and Technology asked its girl students to prepare food for the boys to mark the day.

The underlying motto, as institute chairman DK Garg told the media, was to promote “a culture of knowledge where brothers and sisters could stay together’’. Students said the institute, which believes in strict discipline, had warned them not to get ``carried away’’ on Valentine’s Day."

The article itself contains response from students suggesting it archaic, to say the least. But it is but one amongst thousands of initiatives taken by colleges to "set students on the right path", as though our Deans and Chancellors were the Moms and Dads we went to college to get away from.

This sort of hardcore monitoring is not news to people who have attended, for example Satyabhama College in Chennai - private colleges there are after all for the parents who really hate their children and wish to make sure of a repressed and hateful adolescence for them. The shameful thing is how it occurs even in higher end places. Take IIT G for instance. For everyone who was around till 2007, Rouble's was a popular hang out joint next to campus. It was not a CCD or Barista, simply a shack with 2 tables inside, where one could order tea, buy cigarettes and most importantly, pay later. Rouble bhai was a fraternal figure whom many IITG graduates will remember fondly.

And then sometime in 2007-08, the shop was shut down. Sure, it still operates, but Rouble's can no longer sell cigarettes to students. Also shut down was the mobile chai-sutta wagon within campus - no selling cigarettes to anyone. The Dean saw to both personally, and by some accounts (I'm a bit hazy on this as I wasn't around) personally threatened the owners with eviction should students be caught buying cigs. All this over and above the ban on smoking anywhere within campus, let alone one's hostel room. Bad habits have to be broken, and if the good Dean would not do something (like Boman Irani from Darna Mana Hain) how many future engineers would die of lung cancer?

Similarly, take this article on IIT B's net access. Officials choose to cut off net access at midnight, not because it was expensive, or because students were illegally downloading stuff en masse but because "high-speed internet access was impeding socialization". Just like Mom all those years ago, they were telling students "Go out and play no!!"

Colleges are called alma maters as well. But the people running should realize they aren't our parents. And even if they were... we're not fucking kids anymore.

If only they'd realize.