Glasnost Semester Review

  • New Examination Policy

Up until the semester before this one, missing exams was in danger of becoming fashionable. Actually, it was fashion initiated and perfected by the batch above mine. But it was arguably taken to the next level by the batch below mine. Let’s not revisit history though. The examination department saw a wide variety of changes not only in terms of their approach but also the rules themselves. Most of this can be attributed to the change in Convener. Prof. Sachidanadam was replaced by Prof. A.K. Rai who in his short tenure has caused a monumental shift in examination policies. While it would be trite to ignore the contributions of the Academic Committee and the Academic Council, it would be fair to say that Prof. Rai (at least apparently) has spearheaded these changes. The changes made include strict rules for attendance, strict rules for absenting oneself from examinations and the change in the policy on medical leaves.

While the merits of these rules have been debated a lot and whether or not one agrees with them, it was the implementation of these in the middle of the semester that led to consternation given that it was nowhere near in accordance with due process. The attendance rules for instance were only finally clarified in the middle of the semester. Finally, it was decided that people who had below 66% attendance were not allowed to write exams until they submitted handwritten projects with every 5% deficit amounting to a 4000-5000 word project.

  • Attendance

Attendance has now become a matter of public record. This is mainly down to the efforts of Savy and Mini who have worked tirelessly over this semester to make attendance accessible to each student through TCSiON. Details of academic and medical leaves are also updated and there are strict time limits as to entering the records and changing them. The idea was to avoid shady business where either attendance wasn’t accounted for or where students had attendance they had no right to accept. Yes, Rahul Seth, we are looking at you. It has been a success so far even though it took a while for people to get used to the system.

  • Banking Law and IPR – Changed dynamics of 4th year

Simply put, 4th year used to be a reward for passing third year. It was the time to put one’s feet up and pat yourself on the back while laughing at the poor souls who would have to go through third year. Sure, there is lots of learning and it is brilliant in the long run but ask any third year right now, it is akin to torture for most of them. The hours are long. There is no pay. There is no sleep. There is inadequacy, disappointment, possible depression and a myriad of other bad things that you think you don’t deserve. But at the end of that fiery crucible was the sandy beach with the metaphorical Pina Colada (topped with the nice umbrella thing) waiting for you. This is no longer true. With Banking Law being taken by Prof. AK Rai and IPR by Prof. Yogesh Pai, shit just got serious. The amount of work required for both increased and so did the level of understanding required to answer what seem like infinitely more difficult exam papers. With rumors that the same is going to happen to 5th year, the aforementioned beach seemingly lost most of its sand and the water is now disgusting. Would a shark joke be offensive?

  • Student Run Mess

The mess is no longer run by the college and apart from a reduction to zero in the number of insects found in the food and rats in the mess. The quality of food has improved greatly and chicken is now provided on Sundays as well. The Mess Committee has even managed to streamline plates and spoons being taken upstairs. All in all, well done Mess Comm. No controversy even on a subjective level. Oh, wait.

  • Buff, Pork and Religion

Parotta BeefThe Mess Comm. floated the idea of introducing buff and pork into meals as part of their bid to increase the diversity of the food we get in the mess. Predictably, there were a bunch of people who were very excited by the same. It is important to note that it was merely an idea that they sent out in the form of a mail to assess what the students thought of it and it turned into a giant mass email debate that ranged from religion, food, puking, cleaning up the puke and all sorts of weirdness. While there has been no further push for the same and the debate has died down, it provided interesting insights into tolerance levels and perceptions of people towards meats that are not chicken. There were even allegations that some individuals against the move attempted to coerce mess workers and threatened to leave the mess or puke in the mess or kill the Mess Committee and puke on their corpses. Wait, I’m not sure about the last one. I love the fact that we were so tolerant that no one actually puked. What a win!

  • Gender Issues Sensitization

The month of September saw a demonstration by the student body triggered by an instance of sexual harassment. The harassment in question involved the beam of a laser from the boys’ hostel tracing the contours of the bodies of a few third year girls through the corridor window of the girls’ hostel, and callous hooting in response to expressions of discomfort by the victims. When the third year girls boycotted the committee elections in order to protest, they were reprimanded by members of the University Administration, including the Vice-chancellor, for bringing the incident to light only after the passage of a few days. What was even more deplorable was the dismissal of the incident as ‘small’ by the administration. The demonstration saw over seventy five students lining the path from the academic block to the Amul store, holding placards that spoke of everyday harassment that women face, and expressing their anger at the manner in which the administration treated the incident. The incident and the subsequent demonstration were significant in that they prompted conversations in college about the misogyny that is so deeply entrenched in our culture, the systemic biases that pervade the systems that form our institutions, and about the patriarchal norms that govern the way in which women’s bodies are viewed. The posters that were created for the demonstration were put up in the cafeteria, and have remained to this day, despite the attempts of certain pairs of bitter, invisible hands that demonstrated an unrelenting persistence in taking the posters down. There are new posters in the place of the ones that are taken down, with equally tireless pairs of hands painstakingly crafting them and putting in the time and effort to affix them. Another issue that received considerable attention this semester was the dress-code, with several conversations taking place across batches, particularly in the girls’ hostel, about the various aspects of the dress-code- whether there is such a thing as ‘decency’, whether ‘professionalism’ must come at such a high cost, and whether one navigates a slippery slope while deciding on the nature of such a code. Posters put up by the Anti-Sexual Harassment committee sparked interesting debates about these issues, with responses ranging from the ludicrous to the justifiable.

  • Sanitary Pad Vending Machines

In a much-awaited move, sanitary napkin vending machines were installed on campus at the behest of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee, which pushed and prodded the University administration relentlessly for over a semester in order to accomplish this. Sonal Sarda of the Committee, and Dr. Amita Punj, the warden of the Girls’ Hostel, were instrumental in getting the machines installed. The installation of these machines will not only serve to mitigate the inconvenience caused by the arduous commute to Sector 12 in order to procure a commodity that concerns what is such a intrinsic, recurring aspect of so many women’s lives, but will hopefully reduce the stigma attached to menstruation.  The sheer visibility of these machines will hopefully play a significant role in normalizing what is otherwise such a stigmatized aspect of a woman’s life, with the reclamation of public space itself symbolic of our crucial right to access menstrual hygiene products. The Committee hopes to gradually dispel the aura of shame that surrounds menstruation, and believes that the installation of these machines is only the first step in creating a culture where menstruation is accepted as a perfectly normal part of the human experience. Much to the disappointment of many fifth year girls, and the absolute delight of one, the machine does not dispense candy.

  • New Registrar

Prof. SKD Rao left his post as the Registrar of our college to take up the post of Vice-Chancellor at NLU Orissa. He was replaced by Prof. Bajpai. I don’t know what to say.

  • SBC

The semester began with a huge push for the creation of a Student Bar Council. After an initial spate of meetings, progress was stalled since any progress from the administration was only going to happen post a meeting of the Governing Council which is an annual event in March. However, there was a vote and it was clear that a majority of college wanted an SBC. However, much like anything of value in college, interest dwindled. GBM’s lost attendance since they were long and involved debate which had to be slow since this is so important and all details had to be sorted and we can’t have a situation where we do something that is bad for anyone. But why would we wait? It’s too long. They discuss only one thing max sometimes even not that and that too improperly. And don’t get me started on quorum. And therefore we have….

  • Student Executive Council

The EC was set up following a meeting of all elected representatives of the 4th and 5th year and was in continuation of the work done by the previous elected representatives who had begun the push for the EC. The EC is a stopgap till the SBC comes into place. It is all the conveners of the various student committees who meet on a regular basis to deliberate on all issues college. They also meet and place student needs before the VC and the Registrar and have been involved in getting various things done that would take a while to list. Apart from that, they have also gotten involved in certain individual situations where they have attempted to sort out problems that people bring before them. An example of this is the effort they put in to helping out the students who were facing the prospect of repeating a year. The real problem with the EC though is most people don’t know who the EC is or what they are doing which is as much a problem with the dissemination of the message and also the apathy of most of us in college. Ek to meeting attend kar lo aur mails ko delete mat karo. I hate this TLDR business.

  • The Reprehensibility of Idiots who are F**king A**holes and who deserve to be named and shamed but I don’t have their names but I can still abuse these dumbf**ks

There was a highly unsavoury incident in the middle of the semester where some idiots (presumably from the third year – go write a notice now) trashed the room of another student because he expressed that he would like to learn given that he had not been exposed to such an opportunity in the past. The predictable response obviously is to commit a hate crime. What is worse is that no one knows who did this. Worse than this has been the response of the authorities to investigate. The EC was also supposed to represent the interests of the student whose room they massacred but we have so far not been told how far they have come in this regard. Full disclosure, I sent them a mail and am waiting for a reply on the issue so we can’t assume till we hear from them what they have or have not done. But it is my opinion that something ought to have been done in this regard. It has been long enough. And no, self-censuring yourself from Diwali parties and borrowing library books is not enough. It is great that those not responsible attempted to (albeit misguidedly) claim collective guilt but for the guilty – please know this – YOU SUCK.

  • Cultural Committee FTW

The Cultural Committee organized a wonderful Christmas Ball to, er, celebrate Christmas. People dressed up. People sang carols. There was nice cake. There was nice dinner. It was the culmination of secret Santa week. Happy times. And it even included a full on Bollywood songs dance session. Which is not really Christmas but even so it was tons of fun. There was also a bit about some dress code that was differentially applied but they subsequently rescinded and apologized for this so we will presume that it was misguided and not malicious. Plus they rescinded rather than write a snarky notice (which was dumb on an objective level – Somil) claiming to be the victim when they were far from it but I digress.

The Cultural Committee also organized a Karaoke Night which was held in the canteen which turned out to be a really fun evening where people actually sang. Ok, some of them just lip synced but not all of us are blessed with talent. All in all, it was quite fun with almost everyone singing along to most songs. In fact, they ran out of time before they could get everyone on the waiting list on to sing.

  • Manfred Lachs

In one of the biggest moot victories for our college so far, Somil Kumar, Linesh Lalwani and Arshu John won the World Finals of the Manfred Lachs Moot Court Competition held in Toronto. Linesh Lalwani additionally won the Best Speaker award at the Finals. Our dearest VC must be getting excited as we come a step closer to that holiest of holy Jessup Cup.

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