Online Campaigning, Two Co-CASes And Smoking Zones: SAC Meeting, Jan ’15

The third SAC meeting of 2014-15 convened on 28th January and promptly began discussing the agenda points. Approximately 70 people were in attendance, about 50 of whom were members of the council.

Extension of Dual degree to MS students of 2008 batch onwards

The first proposal of the day was to extend the Dual degree choice to MS students of the batch 2008 and onwards. Currently, this extension is valid only from the 2013 batch onwards. This was passed with no contention after the MS students put forward their case.

Removal of Garden Sec from hostels and appointing Health and Hygiene Secretary

The Speaker then moved onto the next agenda which involved the removal of the post of hostel Garden Secretaries. The SAC felt that the post was now dormant as some hostels don’t even have gardens, and needed a much broader position of responsibility, namely, The Health and Hygiene Secretary. The HHS’s duties will include maintaining cleanliness inside hostels, especially the common areas, maintaining the garden and looking after the functioning and training of housekeeping staff. The HHS will also be responsible for catering along with the Soc Sec and the Gen Sec during Hostel events. The Health and Disaster Management Committee responsibilities of Gen Sec will be transferred to HHS. This proposal was also passed.

Removal of Mess Secs and appointing a HAS council

Next, a bill to rescind the post of the Mess Secs in hostels was proposed to the SAC, the basis being the fact that most hostels don’t have messes inside anymore. The replacement proposed was that of a HAS council, which would work under the HAS, and be structured similar to a Saarang or Shaastra team, with two Core members leading a team of coordinators. Selections will be based on applications, and held under the purview of CCW.

The Cores will attend all tea time or lunch time meetings of the mess they are a part of. They will also have to dine in the messes they are responsible for and attend to all the complaints from those messes. This team will be overseen by the HAS.

This proposal was, again, met with minimal opposition. Most of the debate revolved around the structure, and the fact that, as per the proposal, the Cores would have to eat in the same mess for at least a semester. This obviously bothered the members, as the cores would have less flexibility in choosing their mess which would in turn make this POR less-than-attractive for some of the applicants.

Allowing online campaigning for elections

This was followed by the most controversial topic of the day: whether to allow online campaigning in the elections or not, which was discussed for the better part of an hour. The logic for this ran thus: “If the Indian government allows it, why can’t we?”

The following guidelines were included in the drafted proposal, open for revision by the SAC members: when a candidate submits his/her manifesto, he/she nominates two online campaign managers who are responsible for his/her online presence and campaigning. If a third random person personally attacks the candidate online, the candidate can complain. If the complaint is found to be valid, then the voting rights of the person will be taken away. Further, online campaigning will be allowed only during campaigning days.

However, it was met with skepticism from the very beginning and there were several concerns raised. It was noted that personally offensive posts might affect the victim inside as well as outside of the Institute. and that regulating content during online campaigning was an issue of major concern. However, ideas like having a separate, regulated portal where candidates can put up their views were tossed around.

Finally, a majority of the SAC members voted against online campaigning being allowed. However, due to the significance of this issue, it is still pending in the SAC.

Action to be taken against RAS for inactivity and dereliction of duty

A rather long, but one-sided discussion followed when the RAS was asked to defend himself against the accusation of inactivity and dereliction of duty. The RAS council complained that he was not taking his duties seriously and not conducting meetings. His other culpabilities included not maintaining the research scholar’s portal, inactivity during placements and research scholar’s day, and the lack of initiative taken with regards to the stipend hike issue case, among others.

The RAS was himself called upon to respond to this but wasn’t able to put up a defense. He was unable to answer “What have you done as the RAS in one year?”. He was given the choice of postponing the decision to some other day so that he could come up with a solid defense, but he declined. As a consequence,a majority of the members voted for the issue of a certificate that states his dereliction, and for him to not be recognized during Institute Day. This will now be forwarded to the upcoming BoS.

To have two Co-CAS posts

The next proposal was to appoint two Co-curricular Affairs Secretaries since the current secretary felt that the workload was massive. This proposal distributes the responsibility amongst the two Secretaries, with one taking care of Shaastra and the Inter-IIT Tech meet, while the other oversees CFI, TechSoc, S-net and the Institute webops team. This would ensure that enough attention is given to both CFI related events as well as Shaastra and the Inter IIT tech meet. This proposal was passed by a majority.

Reports of ad-hoc committees

With the agendas and proposals having been dealt with, the Speaker moved onto discussing the reports of ad-hoc committees. The first one was formed to draw up guidelines for Institute and Institute-independent student bodies. Three types of student bodies were defined — Independent, which do not report to any student secretary, SAC-approved, which report to a secretary and Institute-approved, which directly report to an Institute-appointed Faculty Advisor. In compliance with this draft, students have the freedom to form independent student bodies in the Institute, as long as they are in accordance with the Constitution. These bodies are allowed to conduct meetings and protests without explicitly using the Institute’s name but surprisingly, have to register themselves with the DoSt office first. Further, the DoSt office is required to be informed, and additionally may deny permission in case of any Constitutional violations, of any public event the body may wish to organize. This draft was passed with a majority vote.

The last issue of the day was the discussion of the final draft of the Anti-Tobacco Committee. The purpose of this committee was to recommend steps in order to mitigate smoking in the Institute. It involved defining ‘cigarette’, ‘public spaces’ and ‘smoking’, so as to clearly mark out the products that have been banned and the manner of their prohibition. Fines and penalties when caught smoking were also detailed upon, which include ascending degrees of strictness in the order of increasing instances of violations, with a one semester expulsion from the hostel being entailed on the third offence. It recommended the setting up of a toll-free helpline number for complaints about smokers, and attempted to structure the punishments in a fashion that encouraged students to complain without the guilt of being responsible for the punishment imposed on the smoker. Interestingly, both de-addiction centres as well as smoking zones, subject to non-smokers being unaffected, were recommended. This was also passed by a majority vote with 31 voting for and 13 against.

Agenda Points

Proposal
Verdict
Margin

Extension of Dual degree to MS students of 2008 batch onwards.

PASSED

44 for, 0 against, 3 abstain

Removal of Garden Sec from hostels and appointing HHS.

PASSED

49 for, 0 against, 1 abstain

Removal of Mess Secs and appointing A HAS council.

PASSED

50 for, 0 against, 0 abstain

Allowing online campaigning for elections.

PENDING

6 in favour of complete online campaigning, 8 in favour of regulated online campaigning through a portal, 34 against both, 2 abstain

Action to be taken against RAS for inactivity and dereliction of duty

PASSED

36 for certificate stating inactivity and no recognition on Institute Day, 2 for certificate stating inactivity alone, 6 for no recognition on Institute Day alone, 0 for no action, 4 abstain

To have 2 Co-CAS posts.

PASSED

41 for, 6 against, 3 abstain

Discussion of final draft of Anti-Tobacco committee.

PASSED

31 for, 13 against, 6 abstain

Guidelines for Institute and independent student bodies.

PASSED

45 for, 1 against, 4 abstain

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