This year’s first Student Affairs Committee (SAC) meeting on 4th November convened on a 12 point agenda that constituted a range of issues from the removal of the girls’ timing restrictions to the problems of commuting regular students from Saharanpur campus. The meeting was chaired by Prof. Vinod Kumar, the Deputy Director of IITR, and attended by the Dean of Student Welfare and other members of his office.
The meeting was attended by 71 out of the 103 total elected representatives in the Student Senate, with 5 out of the 7 members of the SAC executive present. The SAC proved its worth by successfully bringing the attention of the administration to multiple pertinent issues. A precedent was set by successfully broaching the issue of transparency of funds. However, the meeting was plagued by several instances where the dialogue meandered from policy issues such as the jurisdiction of Bhawan authorities to relatively trivial and Bhawan-specific issues. The meeting also failed to bring the proposal on increasing campus security to a vote. If successful, it had the potential to bring the 11 pm deadline to an end and bring about a sea change in the campus nightlife.
The meeting opened with a request for increased fortification of the institute, one of the last barriers in the way of a 24- hour campus without time restrictions on girls. A comprehensive proposal was submitted, with solutions ranging from scrutiny of vehicles entering the campus to issuance of dependent cards for all residents. From the various points put forth by the SAC, the Chairman and the DoSW weeded out problems such as the imposition of traffic restrictions in the campus and issues related to visitors. The Chairman called for the formation of a committee to frame the specifics. He used the opportunity to announce the invitation of the CISF, with a paycheck of 10 lakhs, to a consultation on issues regarding campus security. While agreeing to increase the awareness and effectiveness of the Harassment Cell, they also agreed to nominate 2 students, a boy and a girl, to the Council for security affairs.
The SAC demanded clear and definitive roles for Bhawan level representatives and the Assistant Wardens. Although the administration claimed to have defined it beforehand, this is the first iteration of a new system and the precise accountability for some seemingly minor issues has still not been clearly stated. The DoSW promised further clarity relating the issue. At this point, the discourse digressed from policy matters towards a number of internal Bhawan related issues, from the woes of washing rooms to the introduction of non vegetarian food dispute. The Chairman decided to call a meeting with all the Chief Wardens to resolve issues relating to repeated refusal of proposals from the students.
A grave issue was raised regarding hefty and unexplained fund allocations for the Student’s club. The purchase of a brand new lawn mower and 2200 tennis balls for the entire academic year were pointed out as gaping anomalies, as was the hustled passage of the budget. The administration could offer no explanation, but promised to look into it.
Objections were then raised on the disparity in Bhawans regarding resources and more or less the power distance from the Bhawan authorities. Disparities were also pointed out in the transparency of funds in different Bhawans and the DoSW promised immediate action on the outright denial of budget transparency in Kasturba Bhawan. A long-pending provision for a cycle stand in Radhakrishna Bhawan was permitted. The Chairman, though, recommended the students to use the Bhawan resources “sustainably”. Responding to request of increasing Bhawan funds and technical activities at Bhawan level, the DoSW apprehended the problem by agreeing to increase funds if provided with a proper justification.
The Chairman agreed to look into the e-rickshaw issue soon, but refused to answer questions regarding the alternatives. The SAC then introduced Mr. Namit, IMG, in an effort to include the group in providing the technical expertise needed to deal with some institute level issues (for instance, an online platform for filing complaints against harassment of any kind). The DoSW was reluctant to go against the Constitution for the inclusion of a new member, but readily agreed to welcome such groups as special invitees.
The Chairman agreed to expedite the process on the ID cards now that the library has overcome issues with vendors and acquired the machine. The Chairman responded positively to increasing the timings of Nescafe during exams and even suggested the possibility of a coffee vending machine in the Library. The Deans present took the opportunity to highlight the poor lighting of the Café and also asked for improved hygiene from the students.
Finally, the representatives from Saharanpur raised issues regarding problems of commuting from Saharanpur campus and demanded provision of an extra vehicle for the campus. The Chairman agreed that the issue of lack of internet speed in Saharanpur Boys Hostel was a problem, which could only be solved after consulting the Superhighway. The Senate, looking into more specific issues, decided to take immediate action on the unimplemented WiFi in Sarojini Bhawan. The issue of accommodation of three students in a single room in Cautley Bhawan was broached. Dr. Nawani, ADoSW (Bhawans) agreed to look into the prospect of shifting those students to other hostels with vacant rooms.