The matter relating to visits of OCs to the school was discussed with the Headmaster and he was informed of the apprehensions expressed by some members of being shut out of the campus and not being allowed to visit their Alma Mater.
Mr Robinson assured me that the old boys are always welcome to visit the school but the entry of visitors has to be balanced with the need to avoid disturbance of school routines and the present day security issues ( regarding which he has received a communication from state authorities). Hence, OCs are advised to call and seek permission before visiting the school and, if this was not possible, to wait awhile at the gate while the security gets a clearance from the Headmaster/Senior Master.
In addition, he assured me that they can visit anytime from 3pm to 5pm on weekdays and through out the day on Sundays when classes are not in session.
It must be understood that students do get disturbed when classes are in session and visitors are seen on the first flat.
I would also like to request the Chapter Heads to issue some sort of ID cards for OCs as this would make it easier to distinguish them from other visitors and meet the needs of security. They must also maintain proper decorum on their visits and not create any disturbance as, by doing so, they shall set an example for the school kids to emulate.
Thanks and regards,
President OCA India
The president of the OCA should encourage the unlettered headmaster to attend an etiquette school where he can be taught the value of politeness and courtesy. Either that, or he should stop writing to OC’s in the way he does.
Jai Joshi, MD
Email response received by BM Singh / President OCA India from the Head Master / BCS Shimla:
Dear Mr. Singh,
I too have no issues on well meaning OC’s visiting school after due intimation so that all concerned are intimated accordingly. This unfortunately is not happening and last minute information is given which in turn makes it difficult to inform those that need to be informed to let them in. I also do not see it happening in the future. Be that as it may I have enough on my plate and would not like to add more of unnecessary unpleasantness on all sides. I have directed the Security Officer to maintain a separate register for all those that come to the school and claim to be OC’s, just have a few details filled in and then since there is no way of identifying whether one is genuinely an OC or not, let the person in without any questions asked. One would have to compromise on the security of the establishment and I guess that would begin with me to avoid all this unnecessary trouble taking place in the event of someone not being allowed in. Let me know what you feel about this proposal as it makes things easier for all including myself. I look forward to hearing from you.
BM Singh adds:
I have accepted this proposal and further suggested that the OCs should also carry some sort of ID which can be taken on record by the security personal.
By way of an update – Yesterday, after a week’s wait, I received a response to my mail of 1st October from the Headmaster’s office. I have copied it below.
However, the real issue remains – have we, the OC’s, accepted the recently imposed “prior consent” or “prior intimation” condition. May we never visit the school again without having to run around and wait for weeks on end before being told …… ” In case you would like to come and visit the school some other time, you may do so with prior intimation to us”.
A reasonable submission – it would be nice if the process can be made simple. A suggestion –
The school maintains a register at the gate. On weekends/holidays and post school hours visiting OC’s should sign in before entering the school. If security is a concern, the data base of OC’s is available and can also be provided by the OCA. It can stored on a PC kept at the gate itself for any verification purposes, if required. In order to avoid disturbing students, limit visits during school hours to those who have made a prior appointment.
On Thursday, October 9, 2014 1:43 PM, headmaster wrote:
Dear Mr. Roach,
I am in receipt of your email dated the 01st October 2014 and would like to inform you that due to a spate of holidays we have not been able to respond to all the emails. In case you would like to come and visit the school some other time, you may do so with prior intimation to us.
Thanks and regards,
From the Office of the Headmaster
In response to my yesterday’s mail, I received a few auto-despatch web links to prior posts – one of which is the Headmaster’s mail dated September 18, 2013 and another is a note to OC’s from the OCA President.
The web links are interesting, as they raise important issues – (i) have the OC’s given up and abandoned the tradition which allowed them access to the school; (ii) does the mail of September 18, 2013 effectively put an end to the century old tradition; and (iii) does the discussion between the OCA President and the Headmaster bind all OC’s for times to come.
Traditionally, OC’s were always welcome to visit school – and without the recently imposed requirement of ‘prior consent’. The Headmaster’s mail of September 18, 2013 addressed to Presidents of various Old Cottonian Associations (I thought there was only one!) – makes for interesting reading –
“I write to you with a reasonable submission, whereby you are requested to make it known to all members of the Old Cottonian Associations that common courtesy and decency as well as etiquette and protocol demands that any OC wishing to visit the School, ought to intimate and get prior consent before doing so.”
Strong words these. The mail goes on … before ending on a slightly more threatening note – “I would request you as Presidents of the various chapters to make this known to all concerned so as to avoid future embarrassment on all sides.”
From Mr. Singh’s subsequent note posted on the OCA website, it appears the matter was discussed and the Headmaster assured that OCs are welcome but entry of visitors (perhaps the reference in to OC’s) now needs to be balanced with the need to avoid disturbance of school routines and security issues. As such, OCs are advised to call and seek permission before visiting the school and, if this was not possible, to wait awhile at the gate while the security gets a clearance from the Headmaster/Senior Master.
The OCA President notes that – “In addition, he assured me that they can visit anytime from 3pm to 5pm on weekdays and throughout the day on Sundays when classes are not in session”.
From the above, it is perhaps safe to conclude that (i) OC’s must always seek and obtain prior permission (ii) only visit between 3-5 pm and Sundays when classes are not in session. (I don’t recall attending classes on Sundays!)
I’ve checked with friends at a few other boarding schools – Doon, Sanawar and Mayo – and I am informed that the old students do not require prior consent to visit their respective schools. I’ve checked with a few day schools. Old students are allowed access without prior consent.
I don’t believe there is a rush of OC’s visiting school on a daily basis to enact drastic provisions to restrict entry. The unwelcome attitude concerning OC’s is evident from the fact a phone call isn’t good enough and a written email receives no response for a week.
Line 3 : Please change ‘waits’ to ‘wait’
It seems that the outrage expressed by many OC’s following the headmaster’s previous demands has been completely ignored. The headmaster remains unapologetic and adamant, as OC’s and their families stand and waits outside shut school gates for a response which may never come (as in the case of Mr. Roach)
While we cannot fire the headmaster, we can our OCA president (my friend and classmate) who has failed in his duty of aggressively representing OC’s. Perhaps it is time to elect a new president, someone with at least some kahones.
Jai Joshi, MD
It doesn’t seem like OCs are welcome. If they were the staff would be more helpful in facilitating their visit. I was on the phone with the headmaster’s office for 15 odd minutes during which time I was told that I needed to first send an email. I was told an oral request wouldn’t be enough. I followed the advice and mentioned that I’m in town for 3 days. My email has not been responded to till date. If as stated by above, OCs are welcome between 3-5 pm on weekdays and all day on Sundays, maybe I should not have been asked to make a written request for prior permission. I have checked with half a dozen schools and none have this elaborate protocol. At best some schools require old students to sign a register at the gate. No one has I-cards nor do they require the headmaster’s permission.
It is not my case that OCs be allowed entry at unreasonable hours or the red carper be rolled out. What would be nice is that if an OC came from out of town and called the headmaster’s office, the OC should be made to feel welcome and not given a run around or at least be sent a quick response.