On 7th November, Vox Populi conducted Campus Dialogue II: The Gymkhana Open House Session. Hosted by Karan Deep Sharma, from Vox Populi, the event was an eye-opener for those who attended, giving a clear glimpse into the Gymkhana’s functioning. Starting off with a short presentation, the General Secretaries detailed up on the crucial decisions taken by each council in their tenure. The host of the evening Karan posed questions based on feedback received from the online survey forms. Most importantly, the campus junta present had some very real issues, for which they sought direct clarifications from the executives.
The first presentation was by the SnT council general secretary Chirag Jha. Institute teams, in specific Pushpak, are currently in the process of being recognized as a part of the council. A committee has also been formed for the expansion of the Tinkering Lab to include advanced technologies like rapid prototyping. Steps like these are being taken to facilitate advanced projects being undertaken currently by the council.
It was pointed out that there is a perception of SnT clubs not contributing towards solving technological problems on campus. Chirag countered this by mentioning a mess system developed by students of electronics club. He, however, agreed that there are very few projects of this type as there are committees that exist at the institute for solving such problems and thus students lose interest.
There were several complaints related to SnT Clubs not returning caution money. In specific, the Aeromodelling Club was mentioned in reference to Summer‘14. As a solution, a system is being implemented where clubs will issue a receipt for all cash exchanged, including caution money. The duration the money will be kept and the conditions under which it can be seized by the club will be clearly mentioned on the receipt.
A first-year student in the survey form had commented on the fact that SnT clubs provide few opportunities to freshers after Takneek. Chirag admitted that this year, due to a lack of projects, opportunities of advanced projects where seniors would guide first years were very few. He urged Y15 to be patient with clubs, as new projects and opportunities would eventually crop up.
Next up was the Games and Sports Council. For all those who did not get a CPA of their choice, inter-sports CPA change will be officially allowed provided the respective coaches consent. NCC people will not be eligible for this as it is a yearlong course which is not supposed to be broken in between.
One of the pertinent issues raised was that the council seems to focus entirely on Inter-IIT and not on uplifting the sporting culture in the campus, there are few opportunities for those who are interested in exploring a new sport. M.Suryaprakash said that he believed that there was a need for professional coaching in club activities to ensure that they were effective. Additionally, lack of publicity results in very few freshers joining the clubs under Games and Sports Council.
The President, Students’ Gymkhana, Gautam Pratap Singh highlighted some crucial decisions taken by the Presidential Council. New bodies called cells have been added to the appendix of the constitution. The cells will be a notch above the Clubs in terms that they have more diverse nature of work and would be directly answerable to students’ senate. Additionally, he informed that the Presidential Council would be dissolved and 3 new separate cells, Community Welfare Cell, E-Cell and Academics & Research Cell would be formed which came into effect on 31st December, 2015.
It was pointed out that a perception has been making rounds about an increase in interference of institute authorities in student affairs. Gautam stated that people perceived this because they had only seen two deans of student affairs. People saw a kind of liberalisation coming with the former DOSA. Now they see a different kind of system being implemented. The Executives are of the view that because of this, students are becoming more accountable in the way they interact with institute bodies. Shubham Atreja emphasised that there is a significant difference between interference and involvement. In this case, increased involvement would be a more appropriate way to describe the situation.
The Students’ Senate report was presented by the Chairperson Shubham Atreja. The Senate is to have a red book, in which proceedings will be officially recorded. General Secretary, Cultural Council will be changed to General Secretary, Cultural Affairs, and he will overlook all cultural activities on campus and not just be restricted to the council, similarly for other councils.
One of the most visible issues was a rift and lack of understanding between the Senators and the Executives. The President clearly stated that senators do not put effort into reading the proposals that are sent to them. In fact, many do not even attend meetings regularly, which should definitely be a cause of concern among the residents of the campus who voted for them. The Senators on the other hand, had a general feeling that their opinions were not given much weight in the Senate.
Next up was the Cultural Council, General Secretary, Ashish Aggrawal. The basic problem mentioned by the general body with cultural clubs is that they take up a lot of time and many people do not join just for the fear of ruining their academics. Ashish was of the opinion that to perform well in events, these clubs must put in good practice. However, for other people, attending workshops is still an open option.
Questions were raised regarding the relatively high budgets allocated to dance and dramatics clubs. Ashish,stated that these clubs needed funds for maintaining and buying equipment. Additionally, the budget has already been reduced compared to previous years.
The Films and Media Council, General Secretary, Prateek Mishra highlighted a few crucial points.Firstly, he highlighted the fact that Photography Club should not be perceived as just a coverage body. Secondly, he felt that coordinators did most of the work in clubs and other people need to be more active. The general body inquired about the role of FMC in increasing publicity of IIT Kanpur. He mentioned that the campus video and articles published by Vox Populi were a step in this direction.
A democracy is only as good as those who have formed it. It functions well only when the stakeholders are aware of the developments and functioning of their representatives. The Open House Session is a very visible platform for both raising issues and developing this awareness.
We at Vox Populi actively invite both the campus junta and senators to participate with even more enthusiasm in future sessions of this kind.
Written by Pratibha Bhatt