Ahmedabad: The 100 acre of lush green campus at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) is supposed to be a place to take a walk, meet up with friends and relax. But the students of this premier institute of management prefer to socialize somewhere else.
And some of their favorite places include the area next to the washing machine in the bathroom, the one close to the TV room, newspaper stands, balconies, foosball table and terrace in the dormitories. This was revealed by a study titled, ‘Dorm Spaces and Sociability’, conducted by Arvind Shatdal, a doctoral student.
The study states that dorm residents enter social space the moment they leave the room. For his study, Shatdal identified dorm 14 in old campus and dorm 20 in new campus to interact with dorm residents and students of IIM-A. The institute has 27 dormitories out of which 1-18 are in the old campus and 19-27 are in the new campus.
The paper considers three aspects namely, life in the dorm, physical artifacts and events at the dorms which are used for socializing. Students also pointed out that going to canteen together for lunch and dinner or going to campus gate for a cup of tea were the other common space for socializing. The ground floor foyer, verandah type space, dorm terrace, and corridor in front of the rooms also fall in the same bracket.
Some students even mentioned corridor space and talking across the balconies – sometimes from different floors as a good place to chat with each other. This was a particular favorite of smokers. The study states that activities like birthday parties, terrace parties and pizza parties are celebrated inside the dorm where the participants vary from 80% to 100%.
Birthday parties are celebrated at the common place on second floor. One or other kind of dorm party happens on a weekly basis in dorm 14 but parties at dorm level are not that common in dorm-20.
One of the reasons as mentioned by some interviewees is its large size which prevents a very strong association among students at dorm level. “But, residents of dorm-20 do go out in small groups exhibiting some sociability built within the dorm members. Terrace parties do happen in dorm-20 but they are not exclusive dorm parties and residents of other dorms are also invited,” states the paper.
Talking about how physical artifacts affect social interaction, the paper states that both dorms were different to some extent and that these artifacts were mentioned prominently by residents of both dorms as a reason for bringing people together.
In dormitory-14 space outside the rooms were described using the prominent physical artifact on that floor like the newspaper stand near the first floor, the printer on second floor and area close to the television set on third floor.
One of the dorm-14 residents suggested that they should have more sports equipment as it increases interaction. Dorm-20 residents recognized foosball table as a major physical artifact. They mentioned that presence of foosball table in the TV room (common room) is a major source of drawing dorm residents together.
Giving example of how physical artifacts can also discourage social interaction, one of the students at dorm-20 said, “The space provided on the bottom floor for interaction is totally unused. I don’t know why it’s there and I don’t know why the benches are there. They are pretty dusty and no one sits there. It was mentioned that absence of these benches could have provided more space for activities like playing cricket.