Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on June 23, asked its students who are staying back in the institute hostels to vacate their rooms in the next two to three days, according to an email sent by wardens.
This has created a lot of hue and cry among the student community, considering that Chennai, where the IIT is located is currently under strict lockdown till June 30.
It is believed that the trigger is when one of the PhD scholar tested positive for COVID recently. The students who had to stay back for critical reasons were asked to fill up a Google Form, in a span of four-and-a-half hours.
“If you don’t fill the form, then it is assumed that you will vacate the hostel. In that case, please inform us of your date of leaving the campus,” reads an email sent to the students by their respective hostel wardens.
“Please note that the approval criteria for students who wish to stay back is very strict and kindly do not try it unless you and your guide would be able to support the request with strong reasons,” the email reads.
On June 12, a Ph.D. scholar, who stays in the institute’s Bhadra hostel was tested positive for COVID-19. Following this, all the other residents of the hostel were asked to go on a 14-day quarantine.
“When these students are already under stress, a few hostel wardens had personally called a few quarantined students and pressurised them to go home in the next couple of days,” says an IIT Madras researcher, in an email that she had sent.
“The hostel wardens and Dean did not even enter the hostels fearing COVID, but now, they expect the students to travel more than 2500 kilometres back home. After travelling back home from Chennai, most of the states have strict guidelines regarding institutional quarantine.
Not all students are rich enough to afford paid quarantine and have facilities for maintaining proper home quarantine. Going home is a big risk not only for us but also to our parents and grandparents at home,” she says.
She adds that she has an upcoming thesis submission on the end of June and that her guide had sent an email to the Dean of Students, asking him to grant her permission to stay back. However, he is yet to hear back from the Dean.
Currently, about 200 students reside on the IIT-M campus. Many of them are students who could not find transport back home on time or are foreign students.