The Semester that was: GRC’s session with professors

The Counselling Service joined hands with the Student’s Gymkhana to organize a ‘Session with Professors’ in all the Undergraduate halls intended for the Y13 batch . The session, a part of the extended orientation held by the Gymkhana Review Committee was meant as a means to bridge the increasing gap between students and Professors and provide the incoming batch with an informal channel to voice  their concerns and clear their apprehensions .This session was also intended as an experiment to replace the now obsolete Faculty Guide System.
The Professors who visited the halls of residences were provided  with a specific  agenda for the session. First and foremost it was  to emphasize academic importance  – Career, Research, Scholarships, and Awards etc. It also was meant to emphasize the various opportunities the campus offers them to hone their technical, interpersonal, sporting and other skills and lastly, efforts were also made to make students aware about how uncivilized behavior can affect their day to day lives even though they might unknowingly assume themselves to be civilized.
The turnout for the session was  high across all the halls as it was ensured that no Gymkhana Activities clashed with the session. Few questions were somewhat general across all the halls ranging from issues concerning time management to the professors’ own experiences as students. However the style of conduction in each hall was unique. Hall 3 and GHT sessions consisted completely of questions being answered, while professor Manindra Agrawal himself asked a few questions for around 20 minutes before answering questions in Hall V.
In hall 2, A K Ghosh and Nitin Saxena were the professors who were invited to the session . The Assistant Coordinators of hall 2 summarized the entire event as extremely informal which was  exactly opposite of what was expected from the event by the students. The DOSA made the students sit where the professors were supposed to sit which helped in breaking the ice with the students right from the start. The Professors enlightened the students about the freedom bestowed upon them within the campus . Professor Saxena shared his experiences from his Hall 2 days which the students looked up with keen interest. However, a section of students felt the presence of seniors demotivated them from opening up freely in front of the Professors, especially the Hall Executive Committee members. Kirti Anand, a resident of the hall, said “The timing of the session wasn’t good. It should’ve been held before the Gymkhana General Secretary’s session because a lot of issues were already dealt with previously.”.
In hall 3, the session consisted mostly of questions. Professors Sanjay Mittal, Shobha madhan, and Prabhat Munshi had been invited to the Hall. The Professors did not stick strictly to the guidelines making the Session more student centric. Professor Prabhat Munshi was extremely informal, talking nostalgically about his old room in hall 3 . The students quickly opened up to the professors and began to ask more personal questions about themselves. The questions , especially those on time management and previous experiences were answered well by the professors according to a resident of Hall 3. The students agreed that the session would help them open up more freely with Professors and would certainly interact more with professors in the future , on a lighter note, at least for the treats promised by Professor Munshi in CCD.
Professor Mukesh Sharma and M K Harbola visited the Hall 10 premises for the scheduled session . Angad and Shashwat , two students present in the session expected it to be a pro – academic session .However, to their surprise as well as that of the majority of the 140 students who turned out , the professors instead chose to focus on issues ranging from interaction with girls for making new friends and also laid emphasis on the motivation behind living life at IITK. The professors , with their rich experience, created a very friendly atmosphere which made the students at ease to ask whatever they wanted to . Shaksham added , “ We felt as if we were talking to our parents . The two hours passed away very quickly. I hope such sessions are held every month.” The session was modified from its fixed objective by the Professors in consultation with Pranav and Abhishek, the Assistant Coordinators present . Professor Sharma gave everyone a take home message saying “ Do everything here in campus what you want to , but, do try and put in that extra effort in doing something out of the box.”

There were quite a few glitches in the conduction of the event in Hall 5. Professors Manindra Agrawal and R. Venkatesan were supposed to come to the the event but professor venkatesan backed out the last minute and professor manindra agrawal arrived late. Professor Mukesh Sharma had however come back from hall 10 in the last 20 minutes to ease the load.Atul And Shreshth,the assistant coordinators were of the view that the delay was minor but the students  complained that around 40- 45 minutes  were wasted waiting.  The session consisted of a 20 minute discussion with professor  Agrawal in the Quad followed by a questionnaire session in the T.V room in which the professors provided solutions to the problems. There were issues with audibility from the behind while the session was held in the quad but were resolved in the TV room. The session on the whole has received good reviews from the students as well as the Professors with Professor Agrawal wanting to come again later.
The session in GH Tower drew a mixed response from the girls .  Some responded positively about the session whereas others had a few complaints regarding audibility issues and lack of a specific agenda. Suchitra Mathur and A R Harish , the two professors who were conducting the interaction, were asked questions ranging from time management issues to approachability issues. Professor Mathur said anyone could come to her house if they were facing any issues and she would be more than willing to help. She also emphasized that academics should be one’s sole priority and in case of advice instead of approaching seniors , the best option would be to talk to one of the professors instead . However, a section of the girls were of the view that in these early days, they might not feel very comfortable approaching them directly . They also strongly opined against HEC members justifying the problems while they were expressing those to the professors.
Overall,the sessions in all halls were received with a positive response from the students and the faculty . Both parties  felt that  more meets should be held to increase the interaction.

This article was written by Praharsh Suryadevara and Shanu Vashishtha

This article was  part of the series of Quora posts by Vox Populi during Semester I, 2013-14