St Stephen’s College issued a notice on Saturday saying it will charge Rs 100 per day from students who have their belongings in hostel rooms and are “unable to vacate” them. The charges will be levied from August 7. Residence charges, including room rent, were last paid by students in March this year.
The Students’ Union Society (SUS) has written to the principal asking for the decision to be revoked, arguing that most students had returned to their hometowns and would have to risk their health by travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic, and not being able to do so would add financial strain on their families.
The notice signed by Associate Dean (Residence) Chinkhanlun Guite on Monday said, “Considering the ongoing pandemic, and the many requests submitted by the resident junior members, students who are unable to vacate their rooms will be allowed to retain their rooms with a modest room rent charge of Rs 100 per day starting from August 7.”
“Resident junior members are also notified that, if and when the government gives permission to reopen the residence facilities, all belongings and luggage will be moved a week prior to the date of residence reopening to facilitate necessary cleaning and renovations. On such an occasion, the college will not be responsible for loss or damages,” it said.
The lockdown due to Covid-19 began soon after the onset of mid-semester break, and as a result, many students who had gone back home for vacation remained stuck there, with their belongings still in college.
The college has been charging around Rs 1,400 per month as room rent, which students paid till March, when the lockdown was declared. With students being asked to pay Rs 100 per day, they will end up paying between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,100.
On June 23, the Dean’s office had issued a notice saying “all resident students are required to vacate their rooms and remove their belongings from college residence within five days beginning from June 29”.
However, students said of the roughly 300 residents, less than 20 could vacate their rooms last month. “I am in Kolkata. Had I come to clear my belongings that time, I would have had to first be quarantined in Delhi and then again when I got back home. Also, it would require me to book flight tickets at exorbitant prices on such short notice.
Most students don’t even have local guardians to collect belongings in just an hour. The Rs 100 per day fee is not at all modest. We are usually charged Rs 1,400 per month as room rent. This would amount to more than double,” he said.
When contacted, Associate Dean (Residence) Chinkhanlun Guite said he did not want to comment. Dean (Residence) Monodeep Daniel asked for queries to be addressed to principal John Varghese. The principal did not respond to calls and texts.
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