Editorial | What happened with the Ratification of the Executive Editor?


By Varun Sridhar

There are two objectives for this piece: To inform our readers why T5E has been absent since mid July, and to explain errors we made in the article titled ‘On Beef and Beating: What’s happening at IIT Madras?’ that we published on May 30th.

This ratification issue took place over multiple SLC meetings. In a week-long email discussion I had with SLC prior to the July 15th ratification vote, the debate about my ratification revolved mostly around the article — ‘On Beef and Beating: What’s happening at IIT Madras?’ — that I co-wrote with Isha Bhallamudi, who was the outgoing Executive Editor. The SLC, as specified in pages 57-58 in the Constitution, took an (online) ratification vote; in this vote, I did not get the necessary ⅔ majority in my favour, and as a result was not ratified.

Due process followed in previous years suggests that ExecEds are ratified after considering the student’s history on campus and their application — which describes their ideas, vision, and plans for T5E. As my application was not considered before the initial vote, it was decided in the second SLC meeting (August 17th) to conduct a new ratification vote on August 29th. In the re-vote, I was ratified with the necessary ⅔ majority in favour.

About the selection process: ExecEds are selected by a panel of the outgoing editorial team and Speaker in two steps — application and interview, subject to ratification by SLC. Ratification here is the formal approval by SLC, requiring a ⅔ majority vote of SLC in favour. I was selected by the panel, but in the initial SLC vote, was not ratified because of complaints of errors in the article. 

The Constitution doesn’t specify what happens when a student is not ratified by SLC for the ExecEd position. After the initial vote, on the advice of T5E’s faculty advisor, an interim editorial team was set up and given sole control of T5E to publish only essential information, until the next steps for T5E leadership were clear. This explains the absence of content from T5E over the past months. Now that I was ratified in the re-vote, the T5E 2017-18 team is free to work on and publish new content, and we will function normally.

I believe it is important to explain the errors we made, since they were the basis for the initial non-ratification and resulting T5E absence.

  1. One of the two students’ photograph was mistakenly published on Facebook along with the article, and remained for more than an hour until it was removed:
    We did not intend to publish the photograph. It was attached to an initial draft of the article, but was removed before publishing to the T5E website. When we later copied the article link to Facebook, the image appeared on the post. Since it was not directly added to Facebook and was never in the article on the T5E website, it could not be removed directly from Facebook. It took us longer than expected to find a solution, and this accounts for the delay in taking down the photograph. We regret the delay in correcting the error.
  2. The article mentioned that the attack was “quite clearly premeditated”:
    On May 28th, the student made remarks on a Facebook post that seemed to threaten revenge against those who participated in or organised the protest. His comments indicate that he likely contemplated a reaction against those who participated in the protest where beef was eaten, but there was no conclusive proof that the attack was “quite clearly premeditated”, as we wrote. We should have chosen our language more carefully to better represent the evidence we had.

The article has been edited to reflect the corrections. We apologise to our readers, and will do our best to ensure such mistakes are not repeated.

The T5E 2017-18 team will now function normally, and we’ll work to provide our readers with high-quality and essential content. If you have any comments on this issue or recommendations for T5E 2017-18, please write to us at [email protected].     


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