Amidst the pandemic, St Stephen’s College of Delhi University notified the hostlers to vacate rooms by 7th August, post which a INR 100 fine would be imposed.
On the 25th July, St Stephen’s of the University of Delhi released a notice asking resident students to vacate their hostel rooms by the deadline of 7th August. Post this, those who have failed to do so would be charged a penalty of INR 100 per day in order to retain their rooms.
“Considering the ongoing pandemic, and the many requests submitted by resident junior members, students who are unable to vacate their rooms will be allowed to retain their rooms with a modest room rent charge of Rs 100 per day starting from 7th August, 2020,” the notice posted on the college website said.
“Resident Junior members are also hereby notified that, if and when the government gives the permission to reopen the residence facilities, all belongings and luggage will be moved a week prior to the date of residence reopening to facilitate necessary cleaning and renovations. In such occasion, the college will not be responsible for loss or damages,” the notice added.
Many resident students have claimed this penalty as “unfair” suggesting that the new rent is more than double of what they paid earlier, making it a further burden amidst the pandemic.
However, the college Principal, John Varghese, argued that the students were given multiple reminders to vacate their rooms since the beginning of July. He added that the hostel rooms need to be “fumigated” and “sanitised” for the upcoming session.
“The notice from the Dean also mentions that a week prior to official reopening, all luggage/ belongings would be removed from our rooms and we cannot hold the college responsible for any loss/damage. That was alarming for me. There are travel restrictions. It is not possible for me to travel from my hometown in West Bengal to Delhi at this moment. Even if no travel restrictions were in place, I’m not willing to incur the financial cost of traveling, the time lost in travelling, staying in quarantine and the considerable risk of contracting the virus. I have, however, arranged for my luggage and belongings to be removed from my room by an acquaintance in Delhi,” accounts a hostler, under conditions of anonymity.
However, the college principal believes the students are spreading “misinformation”. “By the time the lockdown happened, a lot of the students had gone for the mid-semester break. Since the lockdown happened, they didn’t come back. Nobody is talking about the fact that the college is not charging them from the time they were not here till August 7. They have not been charged a single paise for the period they were not here,” Varghese argued.
“We have admissions and we have to get ready for the fresh set of students and in our hostels, applications are made every year. So we have to get ready the rooms, carry out repairs, fumigation, sanitisation and then get rooms for the fresh set of students, who will come, but we don’t know when… Unless the things are removed, we cannot carry out either repairs or sanitisation,” he further added.
Varghese also stated that the dean of residence had been sending reminders to hostlers for vacating rooms and allowed them to request acquaintances in Delhi to do the same on their behalf in case they are unable to travel.
“Now the lockdown has been opened up and there is no restriction on travel. What is preventing them? That will be true (about restrictions in certain places) but they are in direct communication with the dean’s office and they have been asked to authorise someone here. I don’t think a big number of students have their belongings still kept here,” the college Principal stated.
However another hostler from Lucknow accounts, “it is very wrong on part of college to give such notices because the situation is not normal and corona cases are rising, that is why we have kept our belongings in the college till now otherwise we would have taken them back. No other college is forcing or penalizing the students. Our colony is also sealed due to the corona cases and I also do not have a personal car so going to Delhi is firstly very difficult and secondly very risky. If anyone of us falls sick, then will the college take responsibility for this? And in these times, all of us are facing financial problems and then charging the penalty is completely unfair and a pressure on the students.”
He further added that he had no local acquaintances to assist him in the situation, “I mailed them (the college) but no response came from their side”. Varghese said that what they are being asked to pay is not a “rent” but a “penalty”. “You deposit luggage in an airport or railway station’s cloak room, and you are charged by the hour. But we have to be fair and we have to prepare for the students who are coming,” he said.
“In the current scenario, the process of sanitisation and cleaning is going to be a longer process,” Varghese said. He added that there are “certain procedures” that can be followed if the students have taken the keys with them and they are aware about the process.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives