Guest House: A Student’s Bane?
The IIT Bombay campus guesthouse, though an asset to the institute, poses a fair share of problems to students wanting to book rooms.
A Tedious Procedure
The procedure for booking a room in the guesthouse involves a fair bit of running around. The booking form is available online or can be collected from either the Guesthouse or the department office. Any booking application requires the approval of your Head of Department/ Warden/Asst Warden. The HoD may require a “Faculty Introduction Letter” in case s/he does not know the student. Mr. Dabholkar, Guesthouse In-charge, says, “This procedure is in place to stop students from misusing the facilities of the guesthouse”. Under this scheme, the HoD takes responsibility for the authenticity of reason for booking a room and confirms the relation of the
student with the guest.
Who Comes First?
The guesthouse does not have any student or faculty quota in place. The preference order for room allocation is:
Category I: Institute guests (visiting professors, guest lecturers, JEE/GATE committee members, Faculty position candidates etc)
Category II: Official guests (Department visitors, Ex-Faculty members/Officers, Parents/Guardians, Other university students)
Category III: Guests of Faculty, Staff, Guests of students, IITB Alumni and family
Rooms are to be allotted strictly on a first come first serve basis. However, several students alleged in our online survey that it helps to route your booking application through a student who knows the Guesthouse authorities — such as those on MI/TF teams or Hostel Affairs Council — who have interacted with guesthouse authorities previously.
Mr. Dabholkar and GSHA Devashish Sethia deny these accusations and suggest that students should refer to ‘occupancy charts’ available with booking clerk in the guesthouse office to check the availability of rooms.
What are Occupancy Charts?Occupancy charts are available with the caretakers of both the guesthouses. A student can ask to see them to check room availability when he/she goes for booking a room. Mr. Dabholkar guarantees that these charts will be made available on demand and the available dates can be identified and bookedimmediate effect.
Fighting for Breath
The guesthouse has also been party to the infrastructural crunch the institute is facing. Despite Jal Vihar and Van Vihar together having a good 74
rooms, it is difficult to confirm a booking even 3–4 weeks in advance.
According to Mr. Dabholkar, “The infrastructure of the guesthouse has gone down in the last 3 years. The staff hostel besides Hostel 11 was a backup in
case of a lack of space in Jal Vihar and Van Vihar. As the staff hostel has been a temporary shelter for Hostel 11 girls for the past one and half year, our
capacity has reduced by 22 rooms.”
Also, new faculty members are housed in the guesthouse, along with the visiting faculty; till such time that the institute can provide quarters. To add to the 16 visiting Faculty members already residing in the guesthouse, the Institute is expecting another 25, thus occupying more than half the rooms.
A new Guesthouse with an additional capacity of 100 rooms and 50 suites is being constructed near the old Director’s bungalow. There are also plans to convert the staff hostel into residential quarters to increase the number of houses for the faculty members.
In the meantime, Mr. Dabholkar is trying to negotiate deals with hotels around Powai to offer rooms at discounted rates to guests, the details of which shall be made public soon. Institute students can avail a similar discount at hotels in Delhi. The details of these hotels in Delhi have already been posted on student notices.
Hopes on the Horizon
As of now a full-fledged website is being constructed for the guesthouse, with a host of add on features. The new interface would not only allow for checking the availability of the rooms but also help the guesthouse in managing inventory, room service, material management, dining facility etc.
However, an online interface for booking and checking the availability of rooms has been a manifesto point of the previous 2 GSHAs but has still not materialized. Previously 2 students had begun work on such an interface but were unable to complete it.
Mr. Dabholkar has received clearance to make the online interface and is in the process of offering tenders for implementing it. He hopes that the
forum shall be launched by March next semester.
Following our efforts to highlight students’ issues, Mr. Dabholkar has also agreed to propose including faculty advisors in the list of those authorised to validate applications which now extends the list to HoD, Faculty Advisor, Warden and Asst. Warden.