With thousands of students vying for admission at the Panjab University every year, the lack of sufficient seats in hostels has always been a major concern for students. With the student council elections only two days away, student leaders are making rounds of hostels, assuring transparency in allotment of seats and more hostels. Considering the number of staying in hostels and many others who want to, no party can ignore this issue as students expect something constructive from leaders after the polls.
When HT made a visit to hostels, a lot of issues came to the fore. While space crunch is not a new problem, there are many other problems being faced by the residents on daily basis, such as sanitation, hygiene, security, food as well as other maintenance issues.
Ankita Chaudhary, a student of public administration and a SOI supporter, said, “We have been campaigning door-to-door, assuring girls that our party will lay the foundation stone for at least two more girls hostel and another one for boys. Other than that hygiene is a major concern in hostels numbered 2 and 3.”
Swati Tiwana, joint secretary, SOI panel, said, “Water supply is also a major issue, especially during winters when there is no hot water.”
Pointing at a water-cooler, another girl from hostel no. 3 said, “The water-coolers in girls’ hostels 2, 3 and 4 are so filthy. The staff doesn’t clean them for days together. It can lead to infections.”
This correspondent noticed that even the lights in the lobby as well as path on second, third and fourth floor of hostel no. 4 were not working. Exhaust fans were broken and wires were hanging loose outside electricity boards and power meters. “The lifts don’t function for weeks together causing immense inconvenience,” said Himani Negi, a resident of hostel 3. Students complained that washing machines were available only in a few hostels. The story goes beyond finding decent food, which most students say is average and put up with for the low cost it offers. At times, you may not find a dustbin in place to dump the garbage you collect after cleaning your room.
Last month, a total of 69 outsiders were also found staying illegally in various boys’ hostels during a raid conducted jointly by the Chandigarh Police and the Panjab University authorities.
“It has become practically impossible to roam around without being at the receiving end of taunts and harassing comments by men, especially outsiders,” said Anjali Thakur of ABVPPUSU alliance.
Girls in particular are not quite happy with deadline set by hostels for students to reach back. “Though girls are allowed to enter hostels till midnight, it is noted as ‘late entry’ in the register and we are given warnings. So what is the point?” said Swati Tiwana, who herself is on the waiting list of the hostel list.