By Niharika Gunturu and Akash Garg
The second day of Soapbox began with the unanimous candidate for Hostel Affairs Secretary, Ashwanth Monian, a third year student from the Department of Chemical Engineering. It is to be noted that the event had a very low turnout, comprising mainly of the candidate’s team. Thus the candidate finished speaking about his vision for his tenure as HAS in approximately 10 minutes, understandably so, due to the lack of audience members who weren’t already acquainted with his manifesto. It is also to be noted that the soapbox was heavily delayed and began at around 8 pm, an hour later than it was scheduled to start.
Accessibility of Student Services
Ashwanth began by emphasizing the need to increase the ‘ease of accessibility’ of services, such as booking of rooms in Taramani Guest House. He also added that he would update the student portal to facilitate links by which the students can order food online and avail of hostel delivery from eateries in the institute. In addition to this, he also proposed changes in the portal to accommodate slot booking for services such as saloon appointments. He added that he would set up ironing facilities within the hostel zone to relieve the plight of the students, especially those sitting for placements or appearing for any interviews. Further, Ashwanth proposed to reconstruct the SFC to add two new stories in which an Electronics shop would be accommodated to handle the demands of CFI as well.
Moving on to the Hostel zone, the candidate proposed cycle pooling systems for each hostel. He also put forward his initiative to set up industrial washing machines to tackle heavy usage of machines in hostels. He also proposed to install monkey proof dustbins in the hostel zone. He put forward his initiative to set up a reforestation drive.
Food and Mess Services
Regarding the mess services, the candidate proposed two plans : 14 meals/week or 21 meals/week, from which students can select an option. This was to redress the problem of students skipping one meal a day, due to quizzes or otherwise. The students who opted for the 14 meals per week plan would be refunded an amount worth 7 meals.
Regarding the cooking club, he proposed to set up a flagship event for the club. He elaborated on his initiative of “Chef Walks” wherein professional chefs would be invited to the institute, and the students could experience what working in a commercial kitchen entailed. In addition to this, the candidate put forward an idea of food trucks.
Finally, he concluded his speech by proposing back-up power sources for the institute.
This was followed up by a Q&A session by the SLC Speaker Venkataraman Ganesh. The first question enquired the finer details of the proposition of the ‘food trucks’; i.e. regarding where he planned to install them and what ground work the candidate had done to realize its feasibility. The candidate responded by saying that he would request a particular vendor to set up a stall of sorts from say, 8 PM to 2 AM, at a specific hostel site, for instance Jamuna. The venue would be subject to change during different editions/installments of the food truck. The Speaker then asked the candidate if such a restaurant on wheels was necessary, given the fact that most hostels have vending machines and were also in reasonable proximity to eateries of the institute. The candidate responded by saying that the food trucks would break the monotony of the cuisine regularly served within the institute, and that he had spoken to a burger shop and Tibb’s Frankies regarding this idea.
Next, the speaker proceeded to ask him about his reforestation plans, and how he intended to go about it. The candidate said that he had inquired details from the Horticulture Department. When the Speaker enquired what exactly the candidate planned to do, elaborating that the Horticulture Department was already undertaking this. The candidate proposed to collaborate with an NGO in this effort, that he had already contacted an NGO named Sapalaya. The candidate, however, did not respond in the affirmative when asked about the timeline for his reforestation initiative, and also if he had spoken to the Dean (students) regarding this matter.
Questions were then asked on the candidate’s proposal of reconstructing Gurunath. Ashwanth stated that there will be a space crunch for some time but that the necessary facilities would be shifted to the ground floor in Himalaya and that messes would be shifted to Krishna or Mandakini as he is planning to close one of them. However, he couldn’t give a solid answer when asked how he planned to shift the Salon to Himalaya when reconstruction would be taking place.
The Speaker then went on to ask him about his role in the installation of Hybrid water heaters in hostel, as this would be done by the engineering unit and the plan for this has already been validated. Ashwanth promised to follow up on this so that it can be done before the winters and is not lagged by engineering unit.
The Research Affairs Secretary then asked Ashwanth’s plans for accommodating Research Scholars who would be joining around the new year due to the new act passed by the admin. Earlier they used to join mainly during June-July when the graduating students’ rooms got empty and it was not much of an issue. The problems with putting two research scholars in the same room was also discussed as they have a strong preference for single rooms and would require it due to their schedules. Ashwanth was not able to provide a suitable answer for this issue, which has persisted for a long time on campus.