My first day at IIM-A(the orientation) started with the entire batch affirming their compliance to a 'voluntary' pledge, and returning a signed copy of it! Thought the pledge wording claimed itself as voluntary, it was certainly not so! The pledge content was quite idealistic and proper, but begs the question that if we expect mature adults to practice it, then why not give them the freedom to sign it? Unlike a code of conduct in professions like accountancy/medicine/law, no disciplinary action can be taken against those who violate that pledge. That is why each year sees fewer students sign these pledges at schools like Harvard, where they see no point in signing something not applicable for all.
Another example is the recent requirement for students to affirm paying the penalty, if they do not honour their job offers accepted during campus placements. Again a noble goal, but not something which was even informed before the student enrolled. Now, one may argue that not all things can be informed(viz incomplete contracts) and that such adjustments take place, also that students have a choice not to sit for the placement process under those conditions, but in the Indian context, such arguments may not hold water because participation in the placement process is a major reason why students join bschools like IIMA.
And today during registration for the 6th term, we had to sign an undertaking accepting any disciplinary action the college would take against students who enrolled in courses with clashes. Again, a noble idea to preserve the academic integrity, but not the semblance of free will. If academic regulations will be imposed, why go through the facade of claiming the students have assented to this?
The common ingredient in the above 3 examples, is that regulations/guidelines imposed by the faculty, are being given the cloak of student accepted by these measures, where the student has no realistic option but to sign. If that was mentioned in the prospectus/admission letter, then that is a different thing but changing the rules of the game midway does not seem fair to me.
PS:-I do support the intent/content behind all the 3 rules above, but merely object to the rationale for taking student signatures on them, which is a poor replica of a contract!