Know Your SLC: A Brand New Council

The SAC (now SLC) meeting held early this year on February, 2016 passed some major amendments to the structure of SLC, which were later approved by the BoS(Board of Students) in a meeting held the next day. These amendments were initially a part of a much larger new Students’ Constitution. However, several specific amendments pertaining to  the structural changes of the SLC have been passed early, keeping elections in mind.

SLC, or the Students’ Legislative Council, which is entrusted with the role of proposing policies for implementation by the Executive Wing and the Administration, earlier comprised of the elected institute secretaries, branch councillors (BCs) from all departments, hostel general secretaries and is presided by the Speaker (The functioning of SLC is explained in greater detail here; the proceedings of meetings can be viewed here). The new structure by the amendments however is radically different from the old setup – for starters, BCs and hostel Gen-Secs will en bloc be not included in the new SLC and the institute secretaries will remain non-voting members, with an additional ‘executive veto’ power. [1] The new SLC instead comprises of 50 odd elected ‘legislators’ with each department electing 2 members as Academic and Research Legislators and each hostel selecting 1 member as a Hostel Legislator. Representatives from these 17 departments and 18 hostels, elected in the institute elections in March, collectively function as the new SLC from the 2016-17 academic year.

The biggest motivation behind these changes seemed to be the strengthening of SLC by bringing in people purely for ‘legislation’ and separating them from the ‘executive’ groups like Branch Councillors and Hostel GenSecs, who have bigger non-SLC responsibilities like placements and hostel upkeep. Members of the constitution redrafting committee which proposed these changes, believed that this partitioning of focus will help improve the efficiency of SLC, which suffered from low attendance of its members and low output of work overall. These amendments proposed the following responsibilities of the elected ‘legislators’ of SLC –

Duties and Responsibilities of Legislators (Hostel, Academic and Research Legislators):

  • Attend and participate in every meeting of the SLC.
  • Represent the interests of their electorate in specific and the Institute in general in the SLC.
  • Ensure unfettered access for all members of his or her electorate to voice their concerns to him/her.
  • Ensure the maximum possible level of personal interaction with members/groups of his or her electorate in order to represent them to the best possible extent in the SLC.
  • Take an active part in both offline and online discussions and votes.
  • Be a member of at least one Standing Committee (permanent committees of SLC with a prescribed area of jurisdiction) for the course of the entire year.
  • Be well-versed with the Students’ Constitution and legislation passed by the SLC

It has been envisioned that there will be a Standing Committee pertaining to each of the institute secretaries that will review the respective secretary’s work from time to time, assist them in policy-making, document their activities and expenses,  and convey the same to the General Student Body (GSB). Collectively, SLC will keep up the discussion on happenings relevant to the institute and propose changes for improvement to the campus. Hence, ideal candidates for these posts would be students who are “passionate about the institute”, “believe in the role of students in betterment of the campus life” and “interested in policy and policy-making”, according to Venkataraman Ganesh, formerly the core member of the Speaker’s Committee and member of the constitution redrafting committee and presently the Speaker. 

While there’s much enthusiasm about these changes, there’s also enough skepticism, especially concerning whether there is as much space for legislation that SLC would require fifty-odd new legislators. Lack of deliverables is also another concern point because despite being elected posts, none of the SLC legislators would have clear-cut deliverables and the efficiency of discussions will purely be dependent on the SLC Speaker, as is the case with the present system. The effectiveness of initiatives like standing committees will also strongly depend on the candidates who get elected as legislators.


 

[1] While BCs and Hostel GenSecs will no longer be members of SLC, they will assess the new SLC at the end of the next year and make recommendations about its functioning. In order to make an objective assessment though, the current SLC has recommended that they attend and follow all proceedings of the new SLC.

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Raghavi Rao Kodati

Raghavi Kodati is a senior undergraduate student in the Chemical Engineering department, whose research interests are in microfluidics and materials. While working on this article, she got fascinated by the history of material joining processes – from their use in iron pillars in ancient India to today’s aluminium-lithium SpaceX rockets. Excited about science writing, she has written for three issues of Immerse.