‘Unfair for St Stephen’s to Charge Fee for Belongings in Hostel’

If we don’t move out our stuff by 7 August, we will be charged Rs 100 per day. 

Published31 Jul 2020, 08:56 AM IST
My Report
5 min read

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Video Producer: Aliza Noor

The coronavirus pandemic has already put a lot of pressure on us for continuing and completing our education effectively. Students’ problems have been aggravated after Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College notified of a new rule on 5 July to charge Rs 100 per day from those who have belongings in their hostel rooms.

Residents think it is unfair, given the current scenario, to put this kind of economic pressure on students.

Most of us left the hostel between May and June when certain travel relaxations were introduced. Earlier on 23 June, the college administration issued a notice asking us to vacate our rooms within 5 days, with effect from 29 June.

We were told that we need to vacate our rooms. There were slots available on the website where you could log in from the student portal and book a slot to collect your belongings.

‘Unfair for St Stephen’s to Charge Fee for Belongings in Hostel’
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Till 21 June, they didn't say anything when some people were in the hostel. The last person left on that day and after 24 hours, this notice was posted.

It’s very frustrating, especially for those who were already there in the hostel. There was a first-year student I think. He could have at least shifted out. But they didn’t say anything till then.

According to the new notice, if we don't move out our stuff by 7 August, they will charge a “modest” amount of Rs 100 per day. They have also refused to take responsibility for our belongings otherwise.

‘Unfair for St Stephen’s to Charge Fee for Belongings in Hostel’
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

This Will Effectively Double the Hostel Fee

From July to December ie six months, we are charged the total amount of Rs 13,200 and again the same from January to March. So that comes down to Rs 1,400 per month. But now, they are charging us Rs 100 per day, which will make it Rs 3,000 per month.

It is double the amount. We usually pay Rs 47 on a daily basis when we are using the hostel rooms.

If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to get worse, in about four or five months we would have paid Rs 15,000 for that duration. This is as much as what PG-owners are asking outside in the North Campus area.

Travelling Back & Forth Not Feasible

Given the surge in coronavirus cases, local guardians may be reluctant in letting students venture out as well. We will have to quarantine ourselves again when we travel to campus. Moreover, for students staying far away, say in the Northeast, travelling to Delhi just to vacate our rooms is neither economical nor safe.

When the government is advising us to stay home, the college wants us to travel just to collect our belongings, even though the rooms are not going to be occupied by any student in the near future.

There are also students from in villages in Telangana. They went back quite late for the only purpose that they won't be called back anytime soon, and because everyone was asked to vacate the hostel. For them, it will be impossible to manage travelling to and fro.

Students have written to the Dean, Associate Dean and the Principal voicing their concerns regarding the new rule. They have mentioned the following points in their mails to the college authorities:

  • Most guardians are reluctant to send their wards back to vacate rooms
  • Students will have to go undergo 28 more days of quarantine if they travel both ways
  • Request to keep the rooms as is until the new session begins
  • Students’ belongings can also be shifted to the common room

We hope the administration comes to a safe solution.

St Stephen’s Response to The Quint

Prof John Varghese, Principal of St Stephen’s College, responded to The Quint’s queries on 30 July.

“The mid-semester break began on the 9 March. After the lockdown was announced, many resident students did not return to their rooms in the hostel. Their belongings, including books and personal materials, continued to remain in the rooms. These students have not been charged residence charges from 15 March when College was supposed to reopen till date.

“Those students who did not go home for the mid-semester break and who were in residence were well taken care of and were charged up to the time they were in residence.

“As the new semester is about to begin for 2nd and 3rd year students and it is expected that freshly admitted students will also join residence/hostel soon, it is incumbent upon the college administration to get the rooms ready for occupation following all safety guidelines issued by the government.

“Unless the rooms are vacated of all personal belongings, we will not be in a position to allot these rooms to freshly admitted and returning students. The furniture in the room has to be repaired, maintained and the rooms sanitized before they can be occupied.

“Between the period 15 March 2020 and 6th August 2020 those whose personal effects have been in the hostel rooms have not been charged any kind of fee towards residence/hostel despite the fact that their personal effects continue to be in the rooms.

“The residence administration has encouraged all residents to remove their personal effects from the rooms either by coming themselves or by authorising a relative, friend, guardian, or a professional agency to collect their belongings. Unless the college is authorised to do this there could be complaints later of missing personal effects by resident students. (We are now moving towards Unlock 3 and travel, across India, is mostly unrestricted.)

“If this is not done, the college notified that a penal amount of Rs 100/per day will be charged for those who are:

· Unable to come and collect their belongings

· Unable to authorize a friend/relative/ guardian or professional agency to remove their belongings

· Unable to authorize the Dean, Residence to remove her/his belongings to a common room.

“These are the facts of the case.”

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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