In March 2014, the Senate passed a law laying down a CGPA criterion on participation of students in the Inter-IIT Sports Meet. As per the law, only students who have a CGPA above 6.5 would be allowed to represent the institute in the tournament. The two semester leeway that was permitted for its implementation has come to a close this year. Despite this interval, many students in the contingent have so far failed to clear this cutoff, due to the lack of early communication about the rule or otherwise. If the rule stands, around 20 senior players who had proudly borne the IIT Madras flag so far, will be affected and possibly deprived of the chance to represent the institute on their home turf.
In order to accommodate students being affected by the rule, without compromising on academic requirements, the administration seems to be looking at different possibilities. The original Senate rule has a provision to handle individual requests of affected students through a Grievance Committee which comprises of Dean (Academics), Dean(Students), Sports Advisor, MITr Advisor and the concerned student’s faculty advisor. The committee has the right to examine the requests on a case-by-case basis, and grant an exception from the law wherever applicable. For this year, the committee is set to go to work in the next few days and take a decision on the fate of the players who fall below the 6.5 bar.
While a few among the students think that the rule is fair enough, many are concerned about losing valuable players when competing on the home turf this year. Yet another section of students seem to be opposed to the rule in its entirety and are seeking further revisal of the terms.
One of the suggestions put forward by the student sports reps towards the modification of the rule is to consider GPA and not CGPA as a criterion. As the CGPA of a student is averaged over the semesters, the students in their final year would already have completed at least 80% of their credit requirements. Hence it would not be practical for them to raise their CGPA by a considerable amount within a semester, even by barring them from taking part in Inter-IIT.
Another alternative floated by the student reps is to implement the rule from second-year students on wards and exempt the current pre-final and final year students. This will serve as a good enough notice period for players to start working on their academics from early on. The Senate, in its original ruling, seems to have factored this in by allowing a two-semester notice period and clearly noted that in the minutes that were circulated in the student body. But there being no further serious communication between the successive student reps, administration and the students below the 6.5 bar, the notice period has clearly not served its purpose.
RATIONALE BEHIND THE RULE
On one hand is the administration’s perspective, which stresses the importance of having a minimum academic qualification when representing the institute, especially in an external avenue like Inter-IIT Sports Meet. As per the institute rules, students who have a CGPA less than 5 will not be eligible for a degree. For such students, the administration is duty-bound to take necessary steps and help them in any form to graduate. However, many older IIT’s have not taken any formal stance on this so far, with only IIT Kanpur having a similar rule.
At the same time, both the students and the administration do agree that no direct correlation between participation in sports and poor academics can be established. Statistics collected by the student reps corroborate this fact, by showing that there is more or less no considerable difference in the GPAs of affected students averaged over the odd and even semesters. This, according to the student reps, is a clear indicator that Inter-IIT practice sessions taking place in the odd semesters are not the reason behind their poor academic performance. Also, the practice sessions are not compulsory and the system permits the students to attend them as per their convenience and other commitments.
Moreover, faculty do recognize the integral role that sports play in the holistic development of the students by including NSO as one of the compulsory courses in the curriculum. But they express concern over some students involuntarily prioritizing sports over studies and having to face trouble with graduating as their term draws to an end. At the end of the day, if students do not have a degree, they have nothing to show for their time on the sports teams as well.
As the 2015 Inter IIT Sports Meet draws closer, the host contingent is in a state of uncertainty due to this rule. The administration is clear about academic requirements, but is nevertheless considering possible ways to give the affected students a chance of competing at this Inter-IIT, as representing the institute on home turf is a unique and memorable opportunity for anybody in the sports community. As we await the decision of the committee, there is little doubt that the fate of the affected students, either positive or negative, will impact the performance of the Madras contingent in this year’s sports meet.
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