In what could only be deemed as one of the first productive General Body Meetings of the semester, the Student Welfare Committee recently opened up for discussion a topic of extreme importance to the student community i.e. the strict curfew rules enforced on campus with regard to the entry/exit regulations. Disappointingly, the meeting saw sparse participation from the junior batches in light of the degree of contribution offered by the senior batches. In an exclusive interview, Glasnost spoke to Aditya Vikram Yadav, co-convenor of the SWC. Here’s his interview with Siddharth Gupta
- I’ll get straight to the crux of the issue: Why and how did the SWC decide to take up the issue of curfews?
The SWC has over the past few months prioritised responsiveness and result orientation as major thrust areas, and the issue of curfews within the larger framework of Entry Exit Regulations and time-based movement restrictions were a natural choice given the problems many students faced while attending internships, going home or fulfilling social commitments. The SWC drew from the work of past SWCs, VCEC deliberations and student meetings on the matter to chalk out a comprehensive framework which causes minimal discomfort to the students and the administration alike.
After extensive discussions with students and the wardens, it was observed that the current framework has not proven to be ideal for either party, and practice has shown that there is an absence of accountability with the administration coupled with ambiguity upon the powers of the wardens and chief wardens , which was something the SWC wanted to reform before the end of the semester.
- What were your thought processes and expectations (both as a committee and as an individual) going into the meeting? Were they fulfilled?
The issue with some elected committees remains the absence of dialogue and student meetings, which turn even the best-intentioned programmes into non-starters. The SWC had decided at the very outset, that all decisions will attempt to involve all the stakeholders to the extent permitted by time and efficiency.
We have remained optimistic about the response to our efforts, and one has to admit that the response has been very encouraging through all our programmes, and students have provided us with numerous solutions and policy changes, many of which have been put into place, while the others are at the discussion stage with the student body and the administration.
- What were the major ideas mooted at the meeting and which ones finally made the list? Could you please elaborate?
Even though the final draft of these rules would be prepared after holding parallel talks with the Wardens and other stakeholders, one could get a sense of the issues where the students were mostly in agreement with each other. Most students agreed on the need to reform the Permission system, along with blanket permission to leave campus after classes at 1:30.
An interesting reasoning which came through was that with the provision of the shuttle service till 10 in the night, the safety concern for students does not hold as strongly, and that the curfew may be extended towards a more liberal system.
- Beside a common call for email and the actual meeting, what other process or steps have been initiated by the SWC in terms of engaging with the University and its students with this regard?
The SWC has put in place various structures for engagement with the student body, and the aim is to make such systems endure the tenure of my Committee, so that the efforts towards responsiveness and accountability bear fruit for future consultations. Towards this, two levels of engagement have been formed, where we primarily tackle complaints at the level of the initiative we’re pushing. For instance, in the Prof. Ghanshyam Singh Student Mentorship Programme, each SWC member engages with individual mentors and mentees to ensure satisfactory and productive mentorship. Similarly, each initiative is assigned to individual members of the SWC so as to ensure a nodal member for complaint redressal, organising and moderating both official student meetings and informal suggestions.
The second aspect is for welfare provision beyond our initiatives, where aggrieved students can meet, sent e-mails, texts or call us, and can be redressed by the administration through this mechanism. In this light, any suggestions to improve contact are also welcome.
- Not to lead you on at all (*wink wink*), but didn’t the fact that the meeting had lesser members from the junior batches, given the fact that the outcome of this entire process shall be impacting them the most?
It is a given that the senior batches remain more passionate about the Entry Exit rules, as we have seen a significant move towards a more lenient system over the years, and the junior batches are no longer as encumbered as we were in our first year. At the same time, one also realises that other simultaneous events in college at any point disallow us from forming generalisations about attendance and enthusiasm, as the same has to be seen through a long-term perspective.
It might not be unfair to say at this point, that the senior batches were a vital part of the meeting, as their experiences and suggestions provided grounded and workable solutions.
- Do you think we as a University (and I ask you to envisage the entire college, including the admin, teaching and non-teaching staff, students etc.) are apathetic, procrastinating and anti-engaging when it comes to important issues?
Any such generalisation or judgement on the University needs to be placed relative to the experiences of other similarly placed institutions, be it our National Law Schools, or reputed institutions in other spheres. To my mind, the students have, and not without the implicit support of the administration, managed to foster an environment where debate and discussion on issues of significance in various spheres are discussed. The successful lecture series organised by PLPDG over the past year have catered to packed audiences from both the students and the staff. The emergence of Centres for different subjects and the CCG in particular have ushered in a new atmosphere where the University supports and facilitates dialogue and discussion. I would tend to believe we tower upon our contemporaries when it comes to the creation of a vibrant socio-political environment on campus.
- Last, but not the least. Don’t you think I am an amazing interviewer and this should be made a weekly thing?
The SWC wishes you the best of luck for all your future endeavours.
On a personal note, I believe the SWC is tirelessly working towards liberalising a stifling regime which all of us inevitably attempt to circumvent, quite successfully at that, if I may add. But the threat of a sanction or a punitive measure, especially stemming from a suppressive administration always looms over our heads. As a decisively opinionated student body, I believe active engagement, participation and encouragement is the way forward, and I honestly look forward to a greater participation at future General Body Meetings, both in terms of quality and quantity. As a side note- I really think AVY should have acknowledged my lame attempt at self-praise. Yaar itna toh kar deta. Nevertheless, I wish the SWC best of luck for all their future endeavours.