by Bhargavi Suryanarayanan and V.V. Hemanth
The SAC meeting that took place on Saturday, Feb 23, saw a lot of relevant issues being discussed and voted on. The turnout of members of the SAC was disappointing though. After repeated exhortations from the head, 34 members (including 5 stand-ins for those members with legitimate excuses) out of 50 turned up, making up exactly the two-third majority needed for voting on resolutions. It was hoped that the next SAC meeting would see a better turnout of its members.
A tender has been awarded to ITC for a 24-hour canteen in IITM. Two branches will be set up – one near the Hostel Main Office and the other near Sharavati hostel. We will also have ice-cream shops on campus, most probably in front of the Gymkhana. In two weeks we will also see cycle repair shops in the hostel zone, one at Krishna hostel and the other at the Sharavati cycle shed.
The issue of 24-hour internet facility for students working on degree projects was discussed. It is impossible to give certain IP addresses or specific user ids access to the net; the best that can be done is to grant 24-hour access to certain portals used by research scholars. This too can be done only in the Academic Zone.
The Hostel Nite discussion, interestingly, led to one on the psychological effects of too many rules and constraints on students. The rules insist that the host and guest both leave their id cards at the reception during the visit. In boys’ hostels the guests (of both sexes) should leave by 10.30 p.m. There are no limits on guests. For Sharavati the rules change. Only final-year students are allowed to invite guests to the hostel, these limited to two per person. The guests should leave by 6.00 p.m. and the rooms should not be closed while the guests are inside. One student opined that these strict rules only make people want to flout them. Could a psychologist be invited to analyse the effect such restrictions have on the students’ psyche? The council agreed it was a good idea; it remains to be seen if it will be carried out.
The turnout this year at Shaastra and Saarang was scrutinized. There wasn’t the same excitement this year for both fests as last year, and a smaller turnout, opined the students. The inevitable question was raised: should Shaastra and Saarang be held in October and January respectively like they used to be? With the majority voting for it, we could probably see Shaastra and Saarang being shifted to different semesters again from next year.
The recent price hike in Tifany’s and the Staff Canteen was the subject of a furious debate. The prices have been hiked 30-50% across all food items. The pertinent question was why Tifany’s is still here after the huge price hike. The Student General Secretary said he was not happy with the price hike, but they “had to adjust”. “Otherwise we would not have had a canteen for two months, during December and January,” he said. “We had no choice. They promised to improve their quality after the price hike, but that has not happened. We are looking to solve this problem.”
The contract for Tifany’s is till May 2013, and they are working on a new tender after that. But what measures would be taken to prevent something like this next time, asked a student. “We will have a formula to calculate inflation. If the new price is higher than that we won’t accept it,” said the SGS. Another student recommended that the new contract include a three-month notice period instead of the current time of one month. Thus in case of unreasonable demands by the caterer a new caterer can be found instead. It was also proposed to extend the timings of Campus Café.
There was also a resolution to change the current voting system in the elections. Instead of voting for one person, as the current system does, a preferential voting system was suggested. The students rank their options: the first, second, third choices (and so on). If there are three candidates, A,B and C, this system eliminates the possibility that C who is similar to A will grab A’s votes to the benefit of B. It also reduces the possibility of unduly influencing the elections. The new voting system was passed with a majority of 28 out of 34 votes.
The Dean of Students, Professor L S Ganesh, also made an appearance towards the end of the meeting. When asked what his message, “Clean up your laptops,” meant, he bluntly replied, “Pornography.” He added, “Technology has advanced so much that people are able to morph images onto pornographic material… I understand that at your age you have certain unavoidable urges, but keep up the reputation of the institute.”
On the recommendations of the committee, a Branch Councillor post will be installed for physics students for all degrees: BTech, MS and PhD. The post of International and Alumni Relations Secretary will also be created. Professor L S Ganesh, addressing the issue of security in hostels, especially in Jamuna where 6 laptops were stolen in a month, said that a network of security cameras would be installed in all hostels soon, hopefully helping to solve the problem. With some good resolutions passed and important questions and concerns raised, the meeting will hopefully go some way towards improving the student life in the institute.