DISCLAIMER: The authors and editors of this article have tried to be as objective as possible in the following representation of the events of the soapbox. For the sake of brevity, we have discussed, what in our opinion, constitute the most relevant points of the debate. We have provided the video of the soapbox for CulSec (Arts). We will publish the videos for the HAS soapbox and that for the Sports Secretary’s soapbox as soon as they are made available to us.
In yet another article on the election soapboxes, we present summaries of the soapboxes of the following three unopposed candidates: Kishore KS, Sethu Madhavan and Gokulesh TG contesting for the posts of HAS, Sports Secretary and Cultural Affairs Secretary (Arts) respectively. The audience for each of these soapboxes was small, as expected. Nevertheless, please read through the article to know more about your candidates.
Hostel Affairs Secretary – Kishore KS
by Liza Tom
Kishore K.S., a third-year undergraduate student, is standing unopposed for the post of Hostel Affairs Secretary. Points in his manifesto included the introduction of a refund system for missed mess meals, a digital screen at Himalaya (instead of multiple paper-posters), cooking rooms and coffee and tea makers in hostels, and also a 24/7 electric rickshaw around insti (for which point Kishore had a separate presentation, with a detailed budget account). Kishore seemed to have done quite a lot of groundwork, and handled questions with ease and enthusiasm, which the audience saw, because there were not too many pointless questions asked during this round. The Executive Wing had questions about the feasibility of points like mess swapping (where students can exchange messes if they find another person willing to do so), and coffee machines, which previous secretaries have attempted to do. But Kishore had run these ideas by the administration before. He also pointed out that if (like vending machines are now) an external maintenance person is kept-in charge of the coffee and tea-makers, it would remove accountability from hostel operations.
Another question, from the audience, was if the administration would allow delivery of food inside, even when ordered through the student portal (an online site with subsidised food deals, another point in his manifesto). Kishore’s idea is to have a few delivery boys hired by the campus, who will bring the food inside, thus also addressing the admin’s need to control vehicle movement and entry of strangers into the institute. While the points are good, the SAC’s concern remains the fact that previous HAS candidates also had similar points, but were unable to implement them due to various logistical issues.
Sports Secretary – Sethu Madhavan
by Sharika Mahadevan
On the sports front, Sethu Madhavan runs unopposed for the position of Institute Sport Secretary. On 12th March, he showcased his manifesto to the gathered student population at the SAC. His soapbox was brief. Some of the main points on his manifesto included the introduction of a sports weekend encompassing various events including those which are not part of Schroeter and Dean’s trophy like Kho-Kho and Kabaddi, a beginner’s session for students enthusiastic to take up a new sport, archery workshops and some initiatives specifically targeting PG, female and freshie student communities.
When the floor was opened for questions, he was interrogated by Bipin Babu, the present Institute Sports Secretary, on how he could contribute to the hosting of Inter IIT 2017 in terms of selection of cores. Sethu answered that being one of the organising heads of Inter IIT 2015 gave him a general picture on how to go about organisation of Inter-IIT. He also said that he had received feedback from the cores of various departments and had a fixed idea regarding the timeframe and deadlines to be met during the organization of the Meet.
Another question that Bipin raised was about how the institute contingent would tackle the CGPA cutoff of 6.5 which may not be met by some players. To this, Sethu responded that he would try proposing amendments to the rule through the Board of Students. If not, he pointed out that teams could select those students who meet this cutoff and give them extensive training to meet the team’s standards through the summer sports camps. He added that awareness about the CGPA criteria would be created and tutorial sessions would be conducted for the academically weaker students.
Sethu was also questioned on the necessity of a student committee to keep check on the institute facilities, as proposed in his manifesto. He answered that the authorities must be reminded of the pending work and ground staff must be pushed to maintain the fields. He answered that any proposal which is put forward is first taken up by Gymkhana and forwarded to the Dean of Students and Sports Advisor for their approval. Once approved, the idea is passed onto the Engineering Unit. However, he claimed that there being no check on the Engineering Unit, it resulted in a lot of delay in implementation of plans. Hence, a student committee would be required to constantly follow-up with the people involved.
Cultural Affairs Secretary (Arts) – Gokulesh TG
by Arjun Rakesh & Aslamah Rahman
Gokulesh T G, the sole candidate for the post of Cultural Affairs Secretary (Arts), declared that the main focus of his term would be the union of Sangam and Saarang, the two different but equally important faces of the cultural scene in the institute. Concerns were raised through the online portal regarding the relevance of creation of a Saarang-Sangam Mandate while a Saarang Rule Book already existed and the previous CulSecs had found it tough to adhere to it entirely. Gokulesh answered that the Saarang Rule Book had only been introduced on a trial basis, and that integration of Sangam into this was also necessary to increase the involvement of club convenors in Saarang, to mentor the event coordinators more effectively and equip them to become CulSecs and Event Cores with expertise in both realms. His proposal to allocate groups of first years to UG hostels, ones which they are scheduled to move into after their freshie year, was questioned on the lines of incentives for the UG hostel and the willingness of CCW in releasing the list of hostel allocations. He explained that the literary and social secretaries of the respective UG hostel would hold themselves accountable for the performance of their freshers and hence would mentor them. He assured that sufficient feasibility checks had been done on this initiative, with inputs from the current SGS and HAS ( who was present in the crowd ) on behalf of the CCW.
His manifesto point of arranging a PG Freshie Night and an exclusive orientation sessions for Misram was misunderstood as an attempt to exclude PG students from the institute cultural scene and hence faced vehement opposition from a PG student, who was also the PhD councilor. The PhD councillor protested that Gokulesh’s groundwork was insufficient and that he was never approached by him. Presenting the details of a survey he had collected from the PG students, Gokulesh cleared the allegations of not doing enough background checks. With the survey data as the basis, he explained that PG students were mostly interested in Thespian, Music and Choreo events, for which more emphasis will be given through Misram. After a couple of minutes of confusion and heated debate, Gokulesh convincingly clarified that his vision for Misram is an event, exclusive for PG students, conducted with the sole aim of dissolving the hesitation PG students have in taking part in cultural events open to all students (Litsoc, Saarang and other club activities).
Another question put forward through the online portal was the feasibility of adding new events to Saarang through Saarang Nova, since the existing events themselves were unable to draw sufficient crowds. Gokulesh explained that the events at Saarang should not be restricted to those conducted by the clubs and expressed the need for new and refreshing ones like that of an Anime Fest, which will be handled under the initiative. The need for a separate social outreach team was criticised stating that the same job is already being undertaken by the Saarang sponsorship and PR team. Gokulesh explained that most of the initiatives brought about by this team ultimately aim for better PR for Saarang and often fail to actually address social causes. He proposed to set up a dedicated team who would work round the year to serve this purpose. The logistics and security issues for Chennai-wide flash mob contests were briefly discussed after being brought up by the current Cultural Affairs Secretary and his response of conducting the same in other colleges and beaches received mixed responses.
Watch the entire proceedings below. Credits – Media Club, IIT Madras