The Students’ Welfare Cell was established under the Presidential Council in the February of 2014. Ever since, the SWC has been working to address various issues that plague the student body, some of which include – implementation of the New ARC (academic review committee) policies such as minors and double majors, tackle the debacles that arise during pre-registration such as timetable clashes. execution of various policies that have been passed by the Students’ Senate but have not been implemented so far, addressing grievances of the students related to the gymkhana or their academics, scholarships and dissemination of academic information in the student body. Ankur Pandey and Ankit Bhutani, the founding members of the SWC, along with the then Counselling Service Team conceptualized a special task force that is able to address the overwhelming number of problems that the student body faces.
The SWC started off as a small group of motivated members that had the experience of working with various student bodies such as the Counselling Service, the Students’ Senate, and some institute bodies such as the SUGC, SSPC and the SSAC (For the freshmen, these bodies govern the undergraduate curriculum, scholarships and prizes, and student affairs including disciplinary action respectively) and students adept at web designing. With time, the SWC has seen more motivated students join in. Today, the SWC has 25 dedicated members under coordinators Pratik Rath and Sarthak Chandra.
Since its inception, the SWC has been working on disseminating academic information through their website Arya. They have made an interface on which students on academic probation could compute the number of credits they would require to improve. In an attempt to make the cumbersome process of pre-registration easier, the SWC had released videos on how to use the OARS and how the OARS operates.
The underlying objective being student welfare, the SWC aims at bridging the gap between the students and other bodies dedicated to the same cause such as the CS, the UGSAC, the SUGC, departmental committees like the DUGC and Students’ Gymkhana. The SWC is a body that can address all kinds of problem either on their own or by associating with relevant bodies.
The coming year is very important for the SWC as the work they do will decide the direction the Cell takes in the future. The plan of action as of now is to ensure that the minor, double major and dual degree programmes are called on time and students have sufficient time to plan a course of action. The SWC would try to make the pre-registration process a hassle-free and smooth process by suggesting certain improvements to the OARS site and by ensuring that the number of timetable clashes are minimized. This would allow the students to actually exercise the academic freedom they have been promised by the institute. In coming years, the Cell wishes to put in place a program for academically deficient students, to help reduce their academic load until they are in a position to cope on their own. There are ongoing discussions about starting programmes for spoken and written english that aid students with language issues, as English is the sole medium of instruction in all courses.
The New ARC (Academic Review Committee) policies have been implemented to allow for a broad-based education of the UG students as opposed to a department specific one. With 7-8 elective slots and 5 HSS courses in the course template, the students are now enabled to groom themselves in fields (of science, management and humanities) they think will be relevant to their careers. However, most students are not fully aware of the academic rules that govern their programmes and thereby are not able to make informed decisions. Therefore, one of the major concerns that the SWC has decided to address is Dissemination of Information. By regularly visiting UG wings and distributing leaflets, holding multiple interactive sessions, constantly updating their website Arya with all the relevant information, the SWC hopes to broaden their reach among the student body.
The SWC’s work is essentially to act as middlemen between the administration and the students especially for students who do not know how to go about getting their work done. The need for such a cell is best described by Anurag Sahay, the Chairman, Students’ Senate and one of the first members of the SWC – “One of the frequent criticisms levelled against the Gymkhana is that it never does anything for the benefit of the average student. The Students’ Welfare Cell is a small but significant step to address that, and to provide a place where students can bring any of their problems – you bring your problem to the SWC and we will do everything we can to solve your problem, whether it is with the UG Office, the DOSA Office, Hall Wardens, Courses or even the Gymkhana itself.”
Written by Sanjana Gopal