Shout Against Biased Room Allocation

The charm of the General Championship (GC) lies in the unpredictability of its outcome. This unpredictability comes from a level playing field. The moment this field is tampered with, the charm is lost!

The task of hostel allocation for sophomores has been carried out by the GSHA and his council for many years now. It is expected of them that this process be carried out smoothly and in an unbiased manner. The whole procedure should be independent of factors such as elections and the GSHA’s relations with the General Secretaries of other hostels. However there is no system in place to ensure that the process is indeed carried out independent of these factors. The need for such a system can be seen from the allotment that was done last year. Some hostels believed that the allotment was biased and favoured the fresher hostels. The G.Sec of one hostel even wrote a letter to the authorities explaining to them why he thought the allotment was biased and should be redone.

This year we decided to get some facts and figures regarding the allotment last year in order to find out if there was indeed any weight to the G.Sec’s claim. We first met the current GSHA who provided us the hostel-wise sophomore room allotment list for 2011. It was clear from the list that no concrete trend was followed. To give you an example, room no. 70–91 from Hostel 2 lie in the same wing. The allocation of the rooms for this wing was as follows:

70–71 sent to H7
72–75 retained in H2
76–80 sent to H9
81–89 retained in H2
90–91 sent to H9

The following trend was not repeated for any other wing. The interesting fact about the allotment trend for this wing was that they sent the initial 2 rooms and retained the next 4. These rooms were occupied by students who were good at lit/debate/tech. Rooms 76 to 80 (having no Inter-IIT camp/lit/music/dram students in them) were again sent to some other hostel. The next 10 rooms were retained and again these rooms housed students who had taken part in the inter IIT camp, tech and dram events. This is just one of many other such cases where the rooms occupied by Inter-IIT/ cult/ tech students have been retained by following a trend that was tailor-made just for that particular wing!
Furthermore, the hostel wise allotment data for all the Inter IIT freshmen (a copy of which is with us), just showed how obvious and blatant the bias was last year.

Out of the 13 freshmen who were selected for Inter-IIT, 11 were retained in their respective hostels.

This trend is not restricted to just sports. The hostel wise allocation data for freshmen who were actively involved in the cultural scene last year, given to us by the GS-Cultural Affairs re-emphasizes the bias. The list includes the conveners of various clubs, people who were part of the IIT Bombay contingent at other college festivals like Malhar and Chaos and freshmen who had enthusiastically participated in the various cultural events that were organized in the institute last year.

In cultural activities too, 41 out of 59 students were retained by their respective hostels.

Another interesting fact that we can see from this data is the reluctance of the freshmen to leave their fresher hostels. When we spoke to the HCU chairman – Prof. Anindya Dutta about this, he told us that they receive around 150 applications every year requesting for a hostel change. Most of these applications are for a switch from the allotted hostel to the fresher hostel. This clearly shows that there is a general perception among the freshers created by the hostel seniors that fresher hostels are superior to other hostels, which may be aided by the fact that freshers who are good at sports/cult/tech are retained.

GSHA Speaks
When we asked the current GSHA about the guidelines they follow while making the allotment, he said that the only criteria that are supposed to be taken into consideration are the following:

  • DD and B.Tech students should be evenly distributed in a particular hostel
  • Maximum no. of departments should be present in a hostel
  • First year wings should not be broken

Further when we asked him about what measures he would take in order to stop such a biased allotment from taking place in the future, he said “The room allocation for the current first year students has been done giving importance to the interaction among the batch right in the freshmen year. Students from all the departments are accommodated in all the freshmen hostels to foster inter-department interaction. In general 6–8 rooms in a row are allotted to a department and even within that the roll numbers are not in serial order. This has been done to facilitate interaction across different regions as the roll numbers are formed according to the JEE Center of the student. By doing so, we have been quite successful in promoting interaction amongst the batch. This would allow for easy allocation (after first year) as whole wing of 12–14 rooms can be allotted hostels together as we have merged students in the first year itself. To ensure transparency, this year onwards the allocation will be done in the Hostel General Secretaries Committee (HGSC) on a broader level unlike previous years when it was only a GSHA affair. This will prevent any bias creeping in, as the HGSC will have a say in the final allotment”.

Once the new hostels (H15 and H16) are constructed, retention won’t play a role, as H15 will be completely a first year hostel and there won’t be any question of retention. Let’s hope the new reforms taken by the GSHA and the HCU prevent any bias or favouritism from creeping into future allotments!