New Student Life Committee
This year saw the reformation of the Student Life Committee. Prof. Dipti was always seen as student friendly, but this was before Prof. Radhika took over as Chair, SLC. With a new SLC, which includes the Chair and Professors Indranil and Subhadip, we saw a slew of new measures taken in order to encourage student participation in extracurricular activities.
First came the allocation of budgets. Clubs were seen getting budgets allocated, a lot more than any of them would have expected.
Then there was attendance for Felicity. I still have it unconfirmed, but if true, this would probably be the first time that attendance has been given to students for Felicity. Academic attendance is taken seriously in IIIT and Felicity just did not make the cut earlier.
A new, inclusive Srujana. The cultural centre has seen a makeover and early opinions are great!
Indeed, the SLC, the FC’s and the activity council have had a great year. Hoping for more next!
Government Staff in a Non Government Institute
IIIT prides itself on the friendly environment that it has fostered over the years. There are no barriers for students meeting faculty members. There are no barriers to discussions . The director is just as accessible as the dean as any other faculty. This is commendable and students as well as most faculty agree that such a culture fosters mutual development, wherein the students and professors learn from each other and is also in line with the institute’s research culture that requires collaboration.
Yet, the staff working in administering the institute’s daily activities seem to be stuck in an era that is not suited to the institute’s ethos and culture.
Let us consider the example of a student a year back who had to run to and fro to get his pending grades updated by the academic office before he graduated. He claimed, in a post on Life@IIIT, that the staff concerned did not take his issue seriously and even ended up making a mistake in the calculation of his CGPA. The academic office is notorious for being a nightmare to deal with and students make sure that they have enough time out when they pay a visit. They also do not currently hold a lot of trust within the community. Just last semester, someone from the academic office thought it wise to change the grades of students taking the Introduction to Shakespeare course, because the grades given by the professor did not match her outline of grades distribution with respect to marks. While the concern was valid, that the change was made without any consultation shows the lax attitude in the academic office with respect to grades and also evinces the power they wield and how easy it is for an error to crop up in the system.
The student affairs office is one which gets an honourable mention. While I wrote about the Student Life Committee doing a commendable job, the office handling the paperwork seems to handle work the same way students treat their compulsory science electives. They’d like to get done and not have anything more to do with it.
The student community should come together and try to bridge this gap that we have with the staff. They are, after all, part of the family as well.
Gender and Sports
With increasing gender awareness within the campus, there is something related that needs discussion as well. The separation of boys and girls during PT in the morning (let us not get to Yoga just yet).
Why do the girls run behind the guys? Why do they sometimes run lesser? Why are none of the girls encouraged to play football with the guys? Hockey is fine, but football not? The exercises that the girls do are different as well.
The way we have come to expect and accept this separation of girls and guys because of varying ideas of comfort or strength demands introspection.
University Rankings and Metrics
Recently, the MHRD rankings for universities were released and they managed to create quite a furore in the student community. After all, IIIT was ranked 75th overall in the country in the Engineering Institutes category. This with all old IIT’s in the top 10 and most new IIT’s ranked better as well. Considering that a lot students who joined IIIT had an option of a seat in an IIIT as well, the disappointment was evident.
The student community feels that the faculty has not been doing enough to bolster rankings of the institute in the various rank lists. Some feel that while it is difficult for us to get a better ranking on account of our small size and limited engineering disciplines, the ranking that we do have is undeserved and effort needs to put in order to get ourselves noticed.
Some opine that rankings are meaningless anyway, and that the institute’s work and research speaks for itself. While this is true to an extent, these rankings become important for students when they apply for higher studies or for summer research programmes. Students feel that because of losing out on the ‘IIT tag’, they also lose out on the opportunities that tag arguably brings with it.
While improving the ranking of the institute on various rank lists isn’t, and shouldn’t, be the first worry in the minds of the faculty, getting ourselves a ‘IIIT tag’ of our own can do no harm for the student community.
However, if students feel that this IIIT tag is worth it, they should put in the effort themselves and take the initiative to discuss with the faculty and form a faculty-student committee and come up with a short term and long term plan of action. This is absolutely not the responsibility of just the faculty or even the students’ parliament.