Thursday, February 23, 2017

First Impressions of Subharti University

I came to Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU) for my sabbatical on 1st of Feb. There is some excitement and some apprehension. I don’t know where I am staying, I don’t know what I am doing (literally and figuratively).  Everything is new, except India…always the same. Crowded, noisy, smelly and dirty.  But it is still my India.

The campus is on Delhi bypass, the gate is big enough and there were guards to give us a parking permission slip. Manoj was driving, and we asked for directions to the guest house and were taken to the guest house. I had already spoken to the person I was given the phone number of to confirm my stay.  The guest house was very spacious. 

I asked Manoj to take me around the campus before leaving so I could get an idea of the size of the campus and location of the science building. It is a huge campus!! I am glad Manoj was there. The science building was on the other corner of the campus.  Dr. Bhatnagar, the head of department of chemistry, was there, so I introduced myself and sat for a few minutes.  She told me to stop by and see the Dean also. I did. Dr. Kaushik was a small unassuming man. He did not say much and I left in less than 5 mins. All in all, within a day I got my sabbatical assignment and within a week I was shifted to the hostel from the guest house, where I will stay for the rest of my sabbatical.  

My first views is that there are communication issues within the administration and within the sciences. Despite my calling from the States, it did not help.  If they had communicated well, I would have been settled in the hostel the same day with the bedding and all. I would have also known what my assignment was before being present physically.  The latter was not a big issue, but moving from one location to another is a little bit of a pain.  

The university itself is huge! The entrance in not welcoming.  The hospital is right in front of the main gate, so the front is always full of people and there is just too much traffic. It does not give a feeling of an academic environment.  Only when I passed a second gate inside the campus did it get better. All this crowd just makes it a little too much for me. I kept thinking of the peace and quiet of DSVV. 

There are buildings everywhere. It is a residential campus, so most faculty and students live on campus.  The residences are interspersed in the academic buildings.  The layout is good. The landscaping is nice and maintained but just looks shabby. There is dust and dirt everywhere. The stone sculptures need restoration – they have degraded over the years. There are various sizes of gardens everywhere but the grass could be thicker. There are flowers in a number of places and they are blooming – and they definitely look pretty…but something is missing – the up keep?  

There are garbage cans everywhere to help keep the campus clean – but they are not helping. In fact, the garbage cans are so conspicuous that they are all I see. 

There are stray dogs everywhere. I just don’t like that. Either make a park for them so they stay there or keep them off the campus.  All the people and all the dogs have issues….there is spit and poop everywhere.  At least I have to watch out where I step and look, as these things just gross me out.  Sometimes the smell of poop is everywhere.  

The guest house and hostel rooms are nice layouts, but the work in them is unfinished.  The paint is incomplete, the doors look old, some of the sidings and light panels are chipped.  With a little more care and money, this place could look and feel really great. But they leave that last touch which makes it look old. 

I had thought that there would be no men inside the girls hostels, but because of the mess, they are all around. Why?  I did not think they would be allowed to roam freely in the girls hostel or sit around the doors. I don’t feel comfortable going in my night gown to eat dinner, as I used to in RG. There is a sense that someone is watching all the time.  Well they also are, there are CCTV cameras everywhere!! 

The classrooms are also good size but again no good material is used. The chairs are the worst I have seen. When the students drag them they sound like a train screeching to a halt at a station. Or when they get up they just slam up instead of slowly rising up.  The blackboard is small and does not have a place to keep chalks. The professor’s lectern is broken. The lecterns are all slanted and things keep falling off (because the lip is not there anymore).  There is no table for the professor to keep books and pens. Forget about technology. My office table is in poor shape, the drawer is falling apart, the door of the little shelf does not close. And they got plug points in each office just the day before I came, which were stuck so poorly that a little pull on my computer wire pulled the socket out of the wall….I feel guilty!

And the damn gates!! What’s with the gates closed all the time? There are gates and road blocks everywhere inside the campus. Why? There are three main gates (or more) to get into the campus – can’t they control the traffic? There will be this huge gate and on the side, they have this little tiny curved path for just one person to walk through. Rubbish!! And then there are at least three guards on each gate, just sitting and talking and watching. I just hate going past those gates. Why are there men just sitting on their butts? Why can’t they at least get rid of the dogs? 

The roads are worn off and need resurfacing. It really looks like village once I look past the big buildings. Most of the canteens look like sheds. The one decent one is hidden behind the hostel. The shops inside the campus and near the hospital could really use an upgrade. If they could spend just a little more money it would make this place look and feel so much better.  And maybe I am feeling this because I am an outsider. It could be that to most Indians this is normal. 

Why? Why does India do this? JV Jain, RG College and now this…all looked similar.  This one should look much better; they have the funds and manpower. And their fundamentals are good. 

I had not known what to expect from the campus. But after being here for three weeks now, I can say that definitely things could be better to make this campus look beautiful and welcoming! But then its also possible they don’t need the welcoming….there are already people here…Am I being overly critical? I will post pictures soon....and I can make my point.

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