After 11pm, the IBA Boys Hostel turns into a prison

Published: July 5, 2015

Like all Pakistani hostels, our rooms are not air-conditioned. PHOTO: BESTWAY

I am a resident of IBA Karachi’s boys hostel and I am at an age where I feel most of my memories are yet to be made. The old alumni of this hostel, many of whom have gone on to become CEOs of giant corporations such as Asad Umer, recount their personal anecdotes with remarkable gusto. They always say that the best reverie is hostel life.

My personal experience of a hostel is that it is a place which grooms a person with the spirit of brotherhood and instils confidence through experiences of independence. However, the current administration of the IBA Boys Hostel, headed by a professor of IBA, Jami Moiz and Warden Mujahid Ali, are making the hostel nothing short of a living hell. Many complaints against Moiz have been sent to Dr Ishrat Husain, the former State Bank of Pakistan Governor and current Dean and Director of IBA.

However, Dr Husain also seems to be a pawn in some inter-institutional bureaucratic game, because no such complain has ever been entertained by him.

The hostel has a student-run mess facility, where around 300 students pay around Rs8,000 a month. This amounts up to Rs25 million a year. A mess manager is selected by the management from amongst the students to overlook the management of the hostel but there is no accountancy or auditing in place for this huge monetary operation.

Additionally, there is a laundry service where each student has to pay Rs500 in cash. Extracting Rs500 a month from 300 students means that the person running the laundry earns around a hundred thousand per month, after all the associated costs have been accounted for. The person managing the laundry business does not look like someone who earns this much. Rather, this lucrative business is run by none other but the esteemed warden Ali.

Another money making opportunity which is easily available is managing the canteen. A student is selected to run the canteen, and it is a known fact that more than Rs50,000 is easily earned through this enterprise. Apart from this, IBA itself allocates a budget of Rs60,0000 per annum to hold various activities at the hostel, and a treasurer is appointed to manage this money.

Interestingly, this year, one boy held all three positions – mess manager, canteen manager, and the hostel treasurer. It didn’t come as a surprise when the same boy went for a Europe trip at the end of his tenure as a manager. However, what left the rest of the boys at the hostel in shock was how on earth he coaxed the hostel management to give him not one, not two, but all the three managerial roles.

If the management’s decision was based on merit instead of biased management practices, how is possible that only one boy in this 60-year-old institution had the skills to win all three management positions.

Moving on from discrepancies in financial matters, the issue of privacy and liberty is a grave matter as well. There are students pursuing their Master’s degree, but even for them, the hostel transforms into a prison as the clock ticks 11pm. The doors are locked for anyone outside the hostel after this time.

Restrictive rules do not end here. Privacy is encroached to unthinkable limits. Cameras are placed in all the nooks and corners of the hostel, something along the lines of Big Brother, and students have even been reprimanded on the basis of improper postures. This makes students in their 20s feel like they are back in primary school.

We thank God that they haven’t gotten the idea of installing cameras in toilets, who knows how they would react and reprimand students for their improper postures there.

I understand I may sound like a child whining. I am embarrassingly aware of my elitist plastic sensibilities but the main objective of this blog is to rid the management of corrupt elements at the IBA Boys Hostel.

I also want to point out the mind-set which is leading to the slow and inevitable decay of our educational institutes. The prevalent attitude in our government universities’ officials is pathetic. Rather than acting as individuals who are serving the institute, they act like the owners of the institutes.

A few loyal and inspiring faculty members can be found, but they are the exceptions. I am writing this blog as a last resort of getting some attention and a justified reaction from the responsible authorities.

Like all Pakistani hostels, our rooms are not air-conditioned. However, during the death invoking heat wave, we could at least take refuge in the common rooms which were air-conditioned during the day.  They are turned on at 1pm and switched off around 6pm. Lodgers at the hostel come from all over Pakistan. They are not used to the burning humid heat of Karachi, especially when this year over a 1000 lives have already been claimed by the heat wave, and another heat wave is knocking right at our doors right now.

Each month, Rs8,000 is charged as accommodation fee by the institution, which is highly subsidised by the government. During Ramazan, you will find most boys awake till sehri, sweating and cursing the merciless, Moiz.

When you ignore, undermine, and undercut your students like this, you shouldn’t wonder why your institute creates extremists.

What will the energised youth do when they lose faith in the system itself right from the beginning?

The management and the power it yields is so petrifying that I can’t even dare to mention my name, but any IBA Boys Hostel lodger would, hands down, attest to my testimony.



The blogger wishes to remain anonymous.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.