No one can deny that students are best understood by none other than their fellows. Which is why the world over, in almost every university, student bodies are considered to be of great importance. Our university too, has had a working student body for the last two years (and a few times before, too). It was started as a means to unite all the students under one umbrella, deal with student issues, represent the voice and concerns of the students, and in effect give the students the power to have a share in the vision of this university. It aimed to be a body of student leaders who, along with the faculty, would take decisions that affected the student community as a whole. But lately, doubts are being raised as to whether it is doing justice to its responsibilities.
“In recent months it seems that the parliament’s say on important topics has reduced dramatically. It’s only purpose seems to be to convey student views to the faculty rather than express demands and fight for them (which was its original purpose)”, says Mohit Agarwal. Kaushik took a tougher stance and said, “In the recently concluded FSIS meetings, it seemed the parliament had very little to say. Important things like drafting the IIIT-H constitution and talks on hostel and mess issues continue to be postponed”.
When asked, Harish Mudimela, an active parliamentarian, had this to say, “A good student community directly translates into a good student parliament. If people are raising their voices responsibly, taking an active part in the day-to-day activities and are aware of the issues related to the student life, then the student parliament will also get a boost and will move towards achieving the status of a responsible and capable body. Students have to come forward proactively to take up the responsibility and put efforts to sustain those interests. It is not just about raising issues, not just taking the students’ side always, it is about setting a good atmosphere in the student community. Regarding the current parliament I would say that it is still young and there is a lot of scope for improvement. Its just a matter of time and the interest of the students”. Also, Anshul Soni pointed out, “The parliament is perhaps the only student’s body whose roles & duties are not defined. This gives the parliament a tremendous advantage in terms of the freedom to raise any and every issue it wants. The current parliament ensures that our(students’) viewpoint on all these issues is heard and considered by the decision makers. A lot of questioning and convincing happens from both sides, However, in case of a deadlock (which happens on the most crucial issues), I think the current parliament does not have enough belief and willpower to stand their ground, and this is something which needs to change. In a utopian world, the role of Student Parliament is to see that there is no need of a Student Parliament”.
Shipra Malhotra said, “Regarding Parliament activities, the student community often tends to rush to conclusions and believe rumours. It is possible that the Parliament has actively been doing work, but it has not publicized the same. One must know all the facts before commenting on the issue”.
SAC member Ravi Agarwal believes that the Parliament did not have a “visible” stand in any of the recent disciplinary actions. No proper justification was provided to the students on these sensitive issues. Also, the efforts of the Parliament are known only to them and not the rest of the student body, which should not be the case.
In all fairness, it is not exactly true that the Parliament is sitting idle. The first ever live telecast of an FSIS was initiated by the parliament and received good response from the student community. The Parliament also arranged for summer slots for UG2 students who were not able to complete their PT within the two years.
This comes as a relief to many students, as new academic rules and regulations meant that students who did not complete their PT credits within the first two years will have to do so at the cost of dropping a course in their next semester (3-1).
The popular IIIT-H Complaints page on Facebook is being maintained quite remarkably by the Parliament members; people lodge their grievances and get correct, i.e. official, advice on their respective issues. After the recent actions taken by the disciplinary committee, the demand for a student member in the committee was pushed forward by the parliamentarians, and since then a student has been attending the meetings. The parliament is also in the process of having a new laundry system set up in the hostels, providing a night kitchen, ensuring an efficient health system in the campus by performing mock ambulance drills and have already had the OBH snacks replaced with a healthier alternative (with mixed responses from the student body).
Let’s hope the newly elected Parliament lives up to expectations. But this can only happen when the student body stops being indifferent to the state of affairs and participates in the college activities and discussions.