In our institution, apart from the strong faculty and dynamic students from all across the nation, there exists a hidden force that is responsible for keeping the heart of the institute pumping. They stay away from the limelight, but without them we can’t imagine our college functioning. They work diligently, often unnoticed, but for the times when we need a request letter signed, an apparatus fixed, a print-out emergency, a reassurance of safety or a handyman in our rooms! They are the ones we depend upon indirectly for keeping our college lives on a smooth rail.
Yes, we are referring to the non-teaching staff – the lab technicians, the security guards, maintenance groups, administration staff and many more. This edition, we take a sneak peek into the various aspects of the lives of these non-teaching staff, their dreams, their experiences and more.
From the Office of the Deans
One of the staff at the Dean Academic Office has been working here since 1998. Her father served REC as a librarian and she followed his footsteps and set to serve the college. She said, “The motivation to work would be present if better benefits are provided but still we work here for a living.”
When asked about her dream job she thinks hard, probably trying to go back to her childhood days, and said this job has been her dream. However, she sees to it that her duties as a mother of two are not compromised. She retires in the night listening to the music on the radio.
About the students, she says, “Students have become casual and taken life easy, thus they fail to show respect”. She desires that we take life more seriously. She recalls how students worry about attendance lagging and redos, yet they continue to make the same mistakes.
From the Registrar’s Desk
Having served as a faculty for more than two decades he now plays an important role as a Registrar. Although he devotes most of his time now as a member of the non-teaching staff, he still continues teaching in the Civil Engineering Department. When asked about how he manages both the roles, he quotes, “It’s all in the mind”.
He says that life hasn’t been very smooth for the non-teaching staff since the transition from RECT to NITT. The intake of staff has reduced drastically and promotions are given at a slower rate. He feels that this has reduced the motivation to work. He does not blame anyone and he is confident about the efforts made by the admin.
“Anna Print-Roll no-111……” – Octa Printouts
Here is a man to whom we scream our roll numbers, get copies and fail to thank every single time. “Students want immediate results and if we fail they tend to react to it.” He doesn’t blame us for our impatience and he says it is always good to forgive and forget.
During his tenure in the ICE Department, he recalls doing projects for students. “Students would be inside for their viva voce and their projects would be done by me” he pauses and smiles. He also used to bind books for school children but stopped it now due to lack of time. He enters home with an added responsibility to meet the needs of the children and sleeps late after helping his wife.
He loves working here because of the youthful atmosphere and the mix of students from various states. When asked about any message he says, “I dream and want my children to be well educated, but also with the current state of affairs.”
From the Computer Support Group
Here is a person who has been here since 1990 and works for the Computer Support Group. He became a permanent member after 5 years. He tries to maintain a low profile though he loves making a difference in everyone’s life. He is involved in a lot of social responsibility work like planting trees (he works along with a team of people motivating them). He spends his evenings in the temples.
When asked about his dream job, he said wanted to teach children and make them aware of the things that do matter in the real life situations. He doesn’t compare students from different generations, as he thinks it is unfair to do so. Is he happy about his job? He smiles and doesn’t comment.
From the Civil Department’s Fluid Mech Lab
We spoke to a Fluid mechanics lab assistant in the Civil Engineering Department who has been working there for 20 years. His experience has taught him English and a little of Telugu. He believes that the students have changed over time. They have become co-operative over the years but the interaction has reduced.
He feels that the new administration is very dynamic and has brought a lot of changes. As a non-teaching staff, he has no complaints with the administration. “We are treated well. We have a union, in which 14 members of all the non-teaching staff are elected as leaders.”
He fondly remembers when K Palanichamy Sir was the Head of the Department, they had a trip to Kodaikanal to do surveying. “The students were accompanied by 3 faculties. I had also gone along as the non-teaching staff and helper. It was a memorable trip. I had learnt a lot from the trip relating to Civil Engineering.”
A Conversation with the Opal Hostels’ Watchman
One of the Opal watchmen had been a security guard in our campus for 18 years, being stationed mainly at the Sports Centre, Opal and Octagon. He resides in quarters but many security officials come from outside also. He believes that there is very poor discipline now. During REC days, students were under complete control and students are misusing the freedom given to them and that the girls do not listen to them even if it is for their good.
One healthy change, according to him is that the students have started to go more into sports. However, Octagon users are lesser after the oncoming of the laptop generation.
He complains that students don’t cooperate at all and a few handfuls make it a point to break rules. The students also tend to lie to explain why they are late to return to the hostel. Another problem with them is that the students don’t respect faculty from other departments.
“We don’t have any association to express our problems. If we do have something to complain, we complain to the registrar who allots our shifts. But we have not had any serious problems. The only problem for most of us is speaking in English.”
From the Central Workshop
One of the staff from the machine shop, who has been working as a non teaching member for the past 30 years, gave us a deeper insight into their problems. The administration had made several promises to the non-teaching staff, but without improvements. 250 members are currently sharing the workload of 450. However, they barely get benefits. According to him, there is an imminent need to revamp the facilities. Some machines haven’t been replaced in 40-50 years.
As far as students are concerned, he feels that they were smarter in REC times. Also, the interaction between the students and the staff has reduced greatly. However, he is very happy that there have been no accidents in the workshop.
From the House of Metallurgy
One of the Metallurgy department staff has been working here for 21 years, has a diploma in Metallurgy and joined along with 6 others. Now there are only 3. He has held various other jobs in other departments like the hostel office, ECE, physical education and exam duty.
According to him, the students have always been eager to learn. He is glad there haven’t been any mishaps yet. The lab staff also behave like children sometimes, having their own share of fun. There has been a major change in infrastructure and equipment.
He likes his job because he gets to interact directly with students and professors. He believes that apart from professors, lab staff must also have adequate knowledge to help the students learn best from the labs.
From the Chemical Department
One of the staff assisting in the Technical Lab is a diploma holder in Chemical Technology. He has been working in REC from 1991. He was employed through the employment exchange Trichy (which granted him a job in REC as per qualification).
He has seen RECT/NITT through 20 batches of students. However, he hasn’t seen much of a difference in the students. They are very friendly. Since he is practically knowledgeable, they depend on him for doubts. He is on very cordial relations with the rest of the faculty. They are like family to him.
“Apart from the normal activities, we are kept busy with projects from industries which are held in labs. This gives us a lot of exposure to the industrial/real-world scenario.”
Once back in our hostels, when we look back at our day, we may talk about the faculty, the director, other students and the curriculum. We often forget to acknowledge the lab technicians that helped us pull off an experiment, the person who helped us get our transcripts immediately when it was urgent (as opposed to the week-long ritual), the hostel office staff that issue receipts patiently even days after the deadline. It is high time we gave them a little thought and became more understanding. Through our interviews, we came to realise how the non-teaching staff have low-benefit jobs and endure a lot more workload than is their cup of tea. Although this may be due to lack of choices, we can, in our little ways, make it easier for them. In fact, this is easily done than said.
So the next time you interact with one such staff, know that a small act like slipping in a thank-you and watching that word draw a smile on their face or not prodding too much as they go about their work are simple acts that can make a big difference to their day!