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May 24, 2023
- Aastha Khaitan, Khyati Joshi, Akshara Singh, Manasvi Bathula, Khushi Tomar, Shivanshi Arora, Gauri Garg

Hostels are an indispensable part of any student’s life and the monumental amount of time spent in hostel rooms (begrudgingly or otherwise) have an enormous impact. Hostels, fondly referred to as bhawans, are the most frequented structures on campus. With an enormous number of residents comes an immense responsibility of their health, safety and general well-being. Like any other institution, our sanctuary of learning isn’t immune to their fair share of challenges, with students encountering a plethora of hostel issues that are exceedingly important to address.

Watch Out! surveyed the girls hostel populace of IITR to gauge and understand the issues faced by them in their hostels and further segregated the issues for a deeper analysis.

Our survey collected responses from 142 residents across all girl’s hostels and above are the proportion of respondents from each hostel.

A MESS(Y) DILEMMA: Navigating the mess issues

Mess, one of the most quintessential areas of a hostel, often becomes a sentiment. It is in this spirit and sense that the mess be handled carefully, ensuring all residents get nourishing and sustaining food on their plates for every meal, sans questions asked. Leaving the utopian vision for a moment, after talking to the residents of the hostels, we realized that some serious issues did exist in the mess and/or its functioning which needed to be addressed. mess Above are the issues faced by bhawan residents with the mess facilities.The most commonly complained about problems were the repetitive and similar items on the menu with very few healthy options. Few responses were omitted as they were reflecting of bad faith

“Mess menu set up is too heavy on stomach and there is hardly any option for people with dietary restrictions”- A resident of SB

More often than not, the quality of the food erratically degrades and residents are left with no option but to eat food from outside, which is quite unhealthy. Foreign particles are found in the food. It is very important that mess workers ensure complete hygiene while cooking and serving food.

“Many times the food contains dead insects or flies in it.”-An SB resident quipped

There are some snags in the way the mess operates too. During the rush hours everyday, residents have to wait for utensils to be washed again, or food to be restocked. This often leads to delay in reaching classes, notably during lunch time. Half of the utensils have food stains on them. It is expected that the utensils be cleaned properly with due checks because it is unhygienic otherwise in such large crowds. Students complained about the hand wash and water refill area not being cleaned regularly. They are, more often than not, reluctant to use it.

The ambience of the mess, especially in Kasturba Bhawan requires a revamp. Installation of a TV could be a good way forward. There’s a poor ventilation system in the mess contributing to a stuffy environment inside. A major concern also pointed out was the uncovered waste bins in the mess. They lead to foul smell near the eating tables and dirty the surrounding areas. Rearrangement of food bins is an imperative requirement.

The feedback collection system, especially regarding mess issues, is extremely black-boxed currently and there’s very little scope to know the actual numbers the council finally goes by to put certain items in the menu. For sweets, students are mostly only allowed one serving, most boys’ hostels face no such issue.

In Kasturba Bhawan, there are no common equipments such as oven, induction etc. which is an essential requirement. In SB, even though these are available, they’re not cleaned frequently and are almost never in usable conditions.

“There should be atleast one refrigerator if not two for each floor of each block”- Khushi Batheja, a resident of KB

Bhawan Council Inputs-

In Sarojini Bhawan:

  • Fines are imposed on the private agency that runs the mess whenever someone raises the complaint of insects being found in food, pesticides have been sprayed and insect killers have been installed as well.

  • When asked about the feedback mechanism used for mess issues, we were told about the existence of grievance register in the mess and complaint portal on the appetizer app which the students can use to get their concerns through to the council, but most students do not utilize these due to lack of awareness/feasibility of process and rather use the whatsapp group for the same, which isn’t ideal because it’s difficult to keep track of everything and they try to acknowledge as many issues as they can.

  • There also exists a subcouncil group for making changes in the mess menu but only a couple people are active there out of 400.

However, they’re trying their best to take consideration of people’s concerns and encourage them to be a part of the menu-making process.

In Kasturba Bhawan:

  • Shortage of utensils The council had ordered a new set of spoons after noticing that there was a shortage of spoons. But within a few weeks later, a shortage of spoons arose again. It is easy to take spoons in disguise as compared to plates. It’s the responsibility of students to return the spoons. New spoons were bought again but this way out isn’t always effective for financial reasons.
  • Cold food If students report, the mess workers usually heat the food and bring it back.
  • Dietary restrictions Making inclusive food on a mass level is difficult. Usually, khichdi is provided when the menu item is bhature (oily food) and there is chapati everyday.
  • Foreign particles Convey it to the mess manager immediately. The council tries to find out the source and its scale. If there is some issue with the batch (of the source), the batch of food is replaced entirely.

TECHNICAL TURMOIL: Navigating the technical issues

Then come the issues with the technical facilities in the hostels. The students trying to manage the academic load, along with their personal development and personal projects often have to struggle with the “Limited or No Connectivity” message on their cisco apps, with LAN not working, and wifi range scarcely extending to their rooms. This is a widely common problem across all female bhawans.

A resident from KB tells us, “They don’t even take care of the computers in cyber room many of them have very outdated window systems and dysfunctional mouse and keyboards and only one computer is good which is protected by a password that they never tell.”

Bhawan Council Inputs-

In Sarojini Bhawan

  • The bhawan council is in regular touch with ICC about the installation process of wifi routers on campus, which has been going on as a two stage development- firstly on the institute level and secondly, on the bhawan level. Of stage two, several boys’ hostels have been fully equipped by wifi connectivity, unlike the girls’ hostels. This work has been long delayed due to lack of resources to be incorporated in terms of the equipment that are shipped from China due to dip in manufacturing during COVID. The council is always told the work will restart in a month, but it never does.
  • A SAC technical member keeps all bhawans technical secretaries updated on all developments. Many tickets are raised for the faulty LAN, there’s only one fixed process for contacting the ICC. They try to directly contact ICC staff for immediate assistance within half an hour for the 4th yearites that face issues with the internet. Sometimes birds make a nest in the LAN boxes because of SB’s old infrastructure, but that has been resolved by covering the open boxes.

In Kasturba Bhawan

  • “Limited or No Connectivity” - Wi-Fi routers were being installed but ICC had stopped the installation suddenly saying that it would first happen in Himalaya Bhawan. Only after that, installation will resume in Kasturba Bhawan. They didn’t give a clear answer as to why this action was taken. Regarding LAN, almost all bhawans are facing issues with it because of some maintenance issues by ICC. The only thing students can do is raise a ticket or talk to the Technical Secretary who’ll direct their complaint to ICC.
  • Cyber room computers - This comes under maintenance issues. The initial plan was to shut down these systems completely and convert the cyber room into a study room as most students use their own laptops.

RECREATION (with) ROADBLOCKS: Navigating the recreational issues

The gym rooms in the hostels either don’t have equipment or the equipment present is dysfunctional. There are no gaming rooms either for recreational purposes of students, much needed after hectic days.

Bhawan Council Inputs-

In Sarojini Bhawan

  • The gym is functional to a satisfactory degree, the biggest issue being the accommodation. They have to remove equipment and put bedding for guests in gym and TV rooms to stay during fests like Cognizance. However, the equipment is working and was serviced a few months ago.
  • SB is a very old hostel and daily maintenance is a big issue because of which, gaming room is more of a secondary project.There are less residents so the bhawan fund is less(bhawan fund is provided on a per head basis), the council often struggles to meet basic maintenance costs due to this.

In Kasturba Bhawan

  • The equipment in the gym room is being taken care of, it may take some time and moreover, more funds to replace or get them repaired.

BEYOND THE OBVIOUS: Tackling the miscellaneous issues

One of the most widespread issues, common to all hostels is the hostel infrastructure. To accommodate more girls in a limited number of hostels, the double sharing rooms have been converted into makeshift triple sharing rooms. The lack of space in rooms and privacy is at its peak in the triple sharing rooms of SB and KB, with barely any room to walk or properly arrange the furniture. Even with new beds and tables provided to some of the residents, mostly find themselves sleeping on wobbly beds, and using broken tables and pretty uncomfortable chairs. Everyone has their sleep and work schedules managed accordingly, and it gets highly distressing when three people with varied schedules are living together. The following chart shows the issues faced with the maintenance facilities.


Often, residents of the girls hostels have seen various male workers roaming around unsupervised.

Students have to put their names along with other details in a register if they exit the hostel after 12:00 a.m. Students pointed out that this is a discriminatory rule as their male counterparts don’t have to do so.

“For boys there is no such criteria for attendance then why it is mandatory for girls , why discrimination in IIT on the basis of gender?” - Devika Gautam, Civil 1y

“With 2 fans and three people in a room, it gets highly suffocating in the summer season, and the person with the middle bed gets no air from either of the fans.” - Astha Jain, a resident of KB

Moreover, in KB, the number of lifts currently available are insufficient and the ones present are not maintained well causing them to often go out of service. This causes a lot of problems to bhawan residents especially the ones residing on the upper floors. Moreover, constant construction causes a lot of noise and dust leading to the bhawan residents being constantly disturbed.

Bhawan Council Inputs-

In Sarojini Bhawan

  • On triple sharing, they agreed it is the worst issue with girls hostels. Previously all their rooms used to be either single or double sharing rooms, and since the last two years only, post-COVID the rooms have been converted to triple sharing. They mentioned they’re trying for a separate cyber room so that during fests people have spaces to work in.
  • SB being a girls hostel they said they have to be extra protective and caring due to an incident that occurred a few years ago without compulsory register entry being there. This rule was brought in to increase the accountability to the parents who are extremely concerned about the safety for their children after midnight.
  • SB has CCTV cameras installed everywhere hence safety within the bhawan is ensured.
  • On Transparency: General Body Meetings are held and messages are circulated in bhawan groups, they are not held periodically but as and when an issue arises.

In Kasturba Bhawan

  • Since the number of rooms are limited, and the number of girls are more in number, conversion to triple sharing was necessary. The only thing that can happen is at the administrative level with the suggestions being taken into account.
  • The total bhawan strength currently is 854. A-Block has 334 single occupancy rooms, while C-Block has 230 double occupancy rooms out of which 91 are triple occupancy as of now and 139 are double occupancy.
  • As the rooms were converted to triple sharing, not all furniture was changed according to it, since the old furniture can’t be discarded.
  • Usually a female worker is sent whenever there are male workers working , but the students sometimes take the workers with them for their problems without communicating. But as soon as a complaint is raised, it is handled immediately. Moreover, the LAN preparation is a long term work and thus it is not possible to assign a female worker to them at all times.
  • Mostly when the maintenance like white-washing is going on, prior information is given to students about it and the presence of male workers is intimated but repairing LAN is a sudden thing and thus workers come without much prior notice.

FROM DRIPS TO DIS(REPAIR): Navigating the maintenance issues

There are certain universally established basic needs of a human being to survive. Water could easily top this list, among many other things. In hostels, we’re all at the mercy of water coolers for this vital need of hydration. These water coolers are stationed right at the mouth of the washrooms, and are often found to have choked drains beneath the water hoses. Plus there’s really no way of knowing whether the purity filters are working or not. During the freezing cold winters of roorkee, it is bone chilling to have to drink cold water, due to there not being availability of warm drinking water on any floor-albeit the one single RO purifier unit in the visitors room, which hardly ever functions properly despite being the single RO unit in the whole hostel.

Talking about another vital amenity, the washrooms, we repeatedly found there to be quips about problems like- unavailability of handwash in the washrooms on several days, infrequent/improper cleaning of the washrooms as compared to the amount of people using it in a day. The mugs provided in the washrooms are also never cleaned and have fungus/algae growing in them which is mildly nauseating, to say the least. There was a lack of availability of warm water which is a quintessential need specially during winters.

“I am so tired of the dirty washrooms in our wing. God knows how many times I have just ignored the need to go till I reach LHC or the library. Or, hell, even another wing. But, honestly, I am too lazy for that half the time.”- a resident of SB

“The time of cleaning washrooms is not specified.” - a resident of KB

“No hose or tissue available in western washrooms which leads to dirty seat”

“The mugs in toilets should be replaced, they are extremely dirty and unusable, the stands keeping hand washes too are very dirty, no dusting done of the corridor railings or any other area other than floors.” -Astha, a resident of KB

Water coolers being placed right at the mouth of washrooms in all the girls hostels is indeed one of the biggest architectural mysteries of the millennium. This curious placement has been largely inconvenient for the residents who suffer water borne diseases and dehydration.

“Water cooler is just outside washroom and that is really unhygienic” -a resident of KB

We also found many furniture-related issues in the bhawans, most common being the lack of adequate cloth drying stands and the absence of essential equipment like refrigerators and inductions in bhawans.

“KB groundfloor aquaguard is not cleaned and the visitors room lift is not cleaned regularly. There is a lot of garbage under the stairs area in ground floor”- Shreya Bhagat, a resident of KB

“No proper pest control system. We had mouse, and termites in our room. No proper action was taken. No induction, unclean fridge”- Nikita, a resident of KB

“Washing machines in the laundry room should be cleaned frequently because everyone is using it and it is unhygienic and can cause skin diseases. My clothes sometimes come out to be dirtier after the wash.” - a resident of KB

Bhawan Council Inputs-

In Sarojini Bhawan

  • Due to the bhawan being the oldest, all the washrooms need renovation but it is a very time consuming process and it is hard to find an optimal time that causes minimal disturbances to the residents due to the hostel being hybrid ( students from PhDs, BTech first and fourth years all live in SB).

In Kasturba Bhawan,

  • Handwashes - Refilling of handwashes is a new concept that was imposed recently so there isn’t much clarity as to where the funds for this come from. Students can bring their own handwashes.
  • Unclean washrooms - They’re cleaned in the morning and the hand wash area is cleaned once again sometime in the day. It is the responsibility of students to maintain basic hygiene and not leave the washrooms too dirty. Water coolers - They are cleaned once per week/two weeks. If any complaint is received, concerned people are informed immediately. Students wash fruits at the water coolers which is one reason why they get dirty. The cleaners do their job regularly, but students don’t maintain them properly.
  • No warm drinking water in winters - This is a financial issue.
  • Not enough refrigerators - No such complaints were received about the number of refrigerators being less. Complaints about items being stolen were received and cameras were installed to deal with this. A rule of maximum 1 week storage of items has been imposed which students must try and follow.
  • No microwave and induction - No particular student can take responsibility in case the microwave or induction is damaged, and hence we cannot leave them unattended. Moreover, there is a lack of common space between A block and C block to keep these equipment. Although, we are trying for the canteen to be shifted ( this is still unsure) and if a common space is found,we will look upon this issue.
  • For events - Complaint has been raised regarding this but it may take some time. Cyber room might be converted into a study room so it will be okay except during fests.


To gain some clarity and proper understanding of funding available to the hostel councils and how they are managed to meet the needs of the residents, WO! interviewed the Dean of Students’ Welfare, Professor M.K. Barua.

One of the primary sources of funding for the hostels is the plan grant, which is approved by the Dean of Students’ Welfare (DOSW) at the beginning of the financial year. Along with this fund, each bhawan receives an amount of Rs. 500 per resident on a semesterly basis. Firstly, Rs. 200 per resident is derived from the gymkhana fee charged from the students. This portion ensures that a portion of the students’ contributions directly benefits the hostel residents. Secondly, Rs. 300 per resident is allocated as a washing allowance, which supports the provision of essential laundry facilities for the residents. In addition to the plan grant, the bhawan councils also get additional funds by providing accommodations to guests during Cognizance, Thomso, and other events. To ensure flexibility in meeting the funding needs, the Bhawan councils have the freedom to approach the DOSW for further funds at any point in time through the Chief Warden. If there are small funding requirements, they can be issued from the DOSW office as needed. Maintenance works that require substantial amounts of funds are funded by the Dean Infrastructure’s Office.

The autonomy in fund utilization is a significant aspect of the management process. The bhawan councils, in collaboration with the Chief Warden, have complete autonomy in how they allocate and spend the funds. This autonomy enables them to make decisions based on the specific needs and priorities of their respective hostels. It allows for flexibility in organizing events and funding initiatives to enhance the hostel experience for the residents. To support the celebration of Bhawan Days, the DOSW has recently increased their contributions from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 50,000 per bhawan. Additionally, the number of official guests has been reduced from 500 to 52 to reduce the financial burden on the councils. Bhawan councils have the authority to determine whether they want to charge students to fund the Bhawan Days, providing them with the freedom to make decisions based on the preferences and financial considerations of their respective hostels.

In terms of transparency, the DOSW maintains regular contact with the General Secretary Hostel Affairs to stay informed about the issues faced by the bhawans. This collaboration serves as a platform for discussing and addressing the concerns raised by the hostel councils. Bhawan Council meetings, which are presided over by the Chief Warden, provide a forum for the councils to discuss their urgent requirements and concerns. During these meetings, the councils compile a list of their specific needs, which is then communicated to the DOSW for further action. Once the list of requirements is received by the DOSW, the necessary funds are released promptly to address the identified needs. This streamlined funds release process ensures that the bhawan councils can undertake necessary initiatives and address the challenges they face effectively.

The DOSW also emphasized the importance of Student Council Meetings; these serve as a platform for the bhawan secretaries to meet with the General Secretary. They provide an opportunity to discuss concerns, share ideas, and collaborate on finding solutions to enhance the hostel experience. However, the DOSW has pointed out the lack of such meetings in the recent past, highlighting the need for increased engagement and communication among the stakeholders.

Furthermore, the importance of addressing improvements within the hostels was recognized. For instance, the requirement of girls’ washrooms in all boys’ hostels. This initiative ensures that girls visiting boys’ hostels have access to dedicated washroom facilities, promoting their comfort and privacy. It was informed during the interview that an additional female guard would be soon stationed to enhance security measures within the girls’ hostels, preventing unsupervised access by male workers. The DOSW is actively looking into this matter and will take the necessary steps to ensure that the hostels maintain a safe and secure environment for all residents.