No sleeping at Tapti Hostel, IITM. A letter to the warden.

Please also read the comments. As always, what something  seems like at first glance may not be the whole story.

Ravikanth told me about this new ‘rule’ that had appeared in a note on the Tapti hostel notice board. Seemingly issued by the warden of Tapti hostel, NS Narayanaswamy* from the Computer Science department at IITM, this piece of wardenial fiat (erm, wardenical?) has to be seen to be believed. So, courtesy a student of Tapti hostel, here’s a photograph of the notice:

[notice]
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If the rest of the ‘Attention:- Residents of Tapti Hostel’ notice is silly enough, the one that takes the cake reads:

f) Between 9 am and 4 pm, with the exception of lunch hour 12-1pm, if you are found in your room sleeping in a healthy condition, you will be reported to your Faculty Adviser/ Guide/ HoD/ Dean. Your parents will be informed and your presence in the hostel during the daytime [sic] will invite scrutiny.

I also have a picture of page-2, containing the signature of the warden, of this piece of paper that belongs at the bottom of a heap of vomit induced by all the booze, tobacco and drugs the warden is so intent on eradicating. If you are from IITM, and want to verify that this is indeed from the warden of Tapti, you could walk to Tapti and look at the notice yourself.

I am willing to presume that this is merely a misguided attempt at helping students. The combination, however, of self-righteousness, megalomania, hypocrisy and sheer stupidity that has to have gone into this notice is staggering. What is the warden going to do? Walk around the hostel collecting soiled underwear? If he is, could he please deposit the lot in the washing machine at the end of the corridor? They need a wash.

I’d also like to hear how the warden thinks that the conversation with the FA/Guide/HoD/Dean might go.

‘Mr. Dean Academic Courses, I found this student sleeping in his room at 10 am. I want the strictest action initiated against him.’

Here’s a list of possible responses:

1) ‘How could he? Did god give him two hands and two legs to work or to sleep?’

2) ‘Absolutely. Throw him out of the hostel, out of the institute… Oh, wait. Did you say ‘sleeping’ or ‘murdering’?’

3) ‘Don’t you have that class to teach?’

4) ‘Seriously, dude? Get a life.’

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* I have written about this to the warden of Tapti hostel. Here’s the text of the email:

Dear Professor Narayanaswamy,

I am an alumnus of IIT Madras from the Aerospace Engg batch of 2010. Hello. I wish to address this to the warden of Tapti hostel. The webpage for Tapti hostel lists you as warden and says you started your term in July 2010. I hope I have not mistaken you for somebody else.

A notice that was issued by your office and put up on the Tapti Hostel notice board was brought to my attention. I hope, perhaps unreasonably, that it was drawn up by one of your subordinates and that you signed it without really reading it.

I say that because the alternative is saddening. One hears stories about college administrators going overboard with their enforcement of ‘discipline’ in colleges in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. I have always trusted that IITM will not descend into the kind of moral policing that is characteristic of being hit on the head one too many time. Perhaps I shouldn’t.

I see from your webpage that you’ve been a student yourself less than a decade ago. I fail to understand how one can go from that to issuing diktats requiring students to not be asleep, under threat of disciplinary action, past a certain hour.

I write a (somewhat popular) weblog. I’ve written about this notice and what I think about it on the blog. Because it is a blog, the language is perhaps more strident than what I’ve used in this missive. If you do read what I’ve written, I ask that you ignore the language for the message; and that you kindly take this preposterous notice issued by your office down.

Yours,
Ravichandran S.

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11 thoughts on “No sleeping at Tapti Hostel, IITM. A letter to the warden.”

  1. You would think so, wouldn’t you?

    On the other hand, the prof did write back to me promptly and tried to reason out his position. You think I could have written this about a VTU teacher and he would’ve written back? Nice try.

  2. By popular demand (one fellow asked me), here’s the text of what the professor said in reply, and why I think he’s a good fellow. He’s forwarded this email to the hostel’s secretaries as well.

    […]I will talk to the fac ad/ guide/hod. I did not say I will punish […] The analogy is
    that if I did not want to go to school my mother whacked me out of home […] I am not threatening to whine to anyone’s parents. It is a very logical action: “your ward seems to be in a muck, I have noticed it, can we bail him out?” […]

    I like the guy. I’ve apologised to him for judging him based on the notice without really knowing him.

  3. lol…Tapti tradition lives up! I just hope he doesn’t propose the same in the next Council of Wardens, to be implemented across all hostels. One such similar suggestion two years ago by the tapti warden itself had drastic implications…SACs were closed!
    @ croor: did u send him the blog link? i mite have a lot of suggestions for him!

  4. BJ, I did. He’s read the blog, and looked past the fact that I asked him if he wanted to collect soiled underwear and put them in the washing machine, among other things, and still responded to my comments. Like I said, good fellow, if a bit paternalistic.

  5. as much as the warden should not cross his limits in imposing rules on how hostelers should spend their day, sleeping during the day is not the best of schedules. i think we need to forget the empty threat that he is giving in his letter and instead look at the message he is trying to convey. being the warden its his responsibility to see to it that students are not sleeping during the day and missing classes. as is his partial responsibility to make sure that any medical emergency in the hostel is attended to, etc. its sad that you have to blame him for going out of his way, to invite hostility from students, in order to communicate his message. there are no alternatives to saying things like these. there is no pleasant way of saying this. will a ‘please don’t sleep during the day’ note work? and while the ‘hods will be informed’ line makes him invite your negative response, i feel its because of our individualistic attitude, where we don’t want to be told what to do, where we respond to words like ‘penulty’ and ‘personal space’ more than ‘duty’ and ‘responsibility’. its time we saw the same lines and asked ourselves “how can I benefit from this‘ instead of complaining about how impracticable and bossy they sound. complaining and finding faults is very easy. so is imposing rules which will never work. we need to find where all this is coming from, instead of just ranting about professors trying to walk in our private space. so anybody reading this, if your room stinks, this note is for you. else, you have to just move on. ‘flush your urinals’ is a very un-classy line. i know. but whats more shameful, is that we have to tell our friends this! whatever happened to reading between the lines. i hope you read mine. a very poorly written and lengthy comment it is 😛

  6. He’s treating adults like children. That is what has irked people, at least on the blog.

    For my own reasons, but also because he’s gotten the hostel secretaries of Tapti involved in the issue, I’m okay with his explanation. But that’s no reason anybody else has to be. It might seem a bit odd, but the fact that he is willing to debate has to be taken advantage of. You might not get to raise this issue if you have to deal with somebody who isn’t open to disagreement.

  7. Thanks Croor for the blog post, and kudos to prof. Narayanaswamy for caring to respond. All this citizen journalism is great, but I would disagree with you on two counts – first the whole thing about imposing morality. The idea that a liberal attitude should take precedence over such policing is in itself an imposition of morality, but this is just splitting hairs and is pointless.
    More importantly, I don’t believe the treating adults as kids part. For the most part, the guy who would be sleeping at noon in the hostel is someone who was busy going up the down staircase the night before. I don’t agree that people who booze or do drugs are making very adult choices, and if this serves as a deterrent to even a single guy, or forces one guy to spend time at the lab or library, it is a job well done.

  8. The argument is this: I’m not asking the warden to think any better of me; only that he stop telling me what I can or cannot do. He can think I’m a philistine for sleeping at 10 am. It’s none of his business to tell me not to.

    ‘Adult’ choices? You’re using that word misleadingly. Again, the argument is that the choice is MINE, not the warden’s. If I am old enough to choose who runs the country, I am also old enough to choose whether or not I go to the library between 12:15 and 12:27 every day.

    I am okay with Nari’s position because I am willing to believe him when he says that he isn’t looking to impose his morality on others. Failing that, I’m afraid the gloves come off.

  9. I absolutely agree with Croor. I always slept in the afties that were free, because I was mainly nocturnal. But I din’t do any drugs or booze out of control. I’d have got majorly pissed if the warden disturbed me during my precious afty nap times.

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