The NITK Hostel trust has asked for a nominal amount of Rs. 5000 from every student who is on the hostel rolls, to meet the minimum salary of its Mess Employees and Housekeeping workers, on or before 5th November. The amount was half the usual hostel fees of Rs 10500, and owing to the tough financial situations arising due to COVID19, the students had major concerns over the fee and reservations were voiced out.

We spoke to students to understand their problems with this issue. The main concerns were that in the last semester due to the lockdown the majority of students didn’t eat from the mess for a month. A refund is being requested for that period, or an adjustment is being sought to accommodate the required amount from this refund. The students have also asked the Hostel office to consider the Refundable Caution money, amounting to Rs 2000, as part of the hostel fees. In previous years, this money was used for different student activities like Gradbook, T-shirts for various events like Crescendo, Incident, Fresher’s Cup etc. Adjusting this amount for the Hostel Fees will certainly benefit the students. These suggestions and queries were passed on to Dr A.C Hegde, by the 3rd block Mess Coordinator Punit Chauhan.

The Professor In-Charge of Hostel Affairs tried to address most of these concerns. The NITK hostel trust runs only through students’ fees without any government support and grants. Hence, the salaries of the workers have to be self-supported. The caution fees are paid to the institute which is a separate entity from the Hostels. Therefore, the adjustment cannot be done. The refund of the mess for the previous semester will be taken care of at a later stage. Dr Hegde further informed that the situation is inevitable and the fees have to be paid because the Hostel runs only through student fees. All the payments made by students except the Hostel fees are linked to the institute and therefore cannot be used for the hostels. So this amount of Rs 5000 has to be paid by the students.

We reached out to the Student Council for their opinion, this is what one of the members had to say, “It’s quite evident that the Hostel Fee Payment notice was given out hastily. It was given out as a sudden notice on the NITK website without even informing or consulting the hostel council. The mode of payment is not even through IRIS and for 3000+ students sending fee payment details to a single WhatsApp number makes it seem very informal. The only concern here is that students or even the hostel council members were not informed that such a decision was about to be taken which surely defeats the purpose of a hostel council. We had already paid Institute Fees earlier but the Hostel Office said that this doesn’t benefit them as it goes to the Institute. However, there can be some arrangement done between both the entities during these tough times. I would request the hostel office to make the process more formal and consult the hostel council members before any such decision is taken.”

COVID19 has had a toll on the incomes of many families, and in this unpredictable situation, students are asking for some relief from the Hostel Authorities. Students, however, understand the predicament of the workers and the need for paying them salaries during these tough times. Some students are ready to pay the amount and help the workers. Most of them are just requesting for a solution to be sought out that wouldn’t burden them too much. They believe that accommodations can be made in this unprecedented situation by both the Institute and the Hostels.