Dude, where’s my laptop?

By Anshul Avasthi, Anant Kekre and Somesh Sontakke

H4 student’s laptop confiscated for gaming. InsIghT reports, after a conversation with the Warden, Prof. Juneja.

Chief Editors: Anubhav Mangal, Suman Rao
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About 45 minutes post midnight on the 30th of September, several students in Hostel Four were surprised by a visit from their Hostel Warden, Prof. Ashish Juneja. While multiple students understandably got into trouble for violations of Hostel rules, one particular case aroused the curiosity of several members of the student body.

Prof. Juneja (accompanied by the Hostel council) was going door-to-door in order to ensure the absence of questionable substances and activities when they pulled up a third-year Undergraduate for indulging in an online Role Playing Game at that hour. After a brief discussion, the student’s laptop was confiscated with the promise of being returned once his parents sent a written apology and an assurance that such an instance wouldn’t recur.

When asked about the incident later, the student mentioned that he had no idea how to react at the time. He says that his parents didn’t see a problem with him playing LAN games either. However, they still complied with the Warden’s requests in order to bring an end to the matter. He also adds that he’s unsure what wrong-doing, exactly, he has been accused of. In search of this answer, InsIghT approached Prof. Juneja who provided a few clarifications.

Prof. Juneja stated that studying is the primary reason for any student to be present on campus. While he isn’t particularly worried about gaming, it is his opinion that curbing the practice is essential if and when it begins to interfere with one’s academics. According to him, gaming at an hour that late is bound to hamper one’s powers of concentration during morning lectures, if not the ability to attend them.

Within respectable hours of sleep, students should be asleep.”

He also pointed out that the reason he chose to deal with the problem in this particular manner was to ensure that the student would contact his parents and let them know about his activities, having noticed that this works as a much better deterrent than the monetary fines usually imposed upon first-time offenders. “As long as a student’s parents are aware of and have no problems with his/her activities, anything legal they do is fine”, he added.

It is the opinion of the authors that students (most of them being adults) should be allowed to make their own lifestyle choices, as long as they abide by all the rules laid down by the Institute and by the Indian Constitution. While IIT Bombay’s IT Policy does state that the Institute Network is provided to us for Academic purposes, it is also clear that gaming, in and of itself, wasn’t the problem the authorities were concerned with in this case. Even in cases where it might be considered prudent to go above and beyond the set legal limits for the general good of the student, the matter at hand appears too trivial for the authorities to have involved themselves in.

The exact extent to which such an intervention may be deemed necessary is indeed subjective, and is left to the readers to determine for themselves.