By Rohan Bendre
On 18th September, the first SAC meeting of this academic year was held at MRC. The meeting started with a bare minimal number of attendees which included the Executive Wing, a few hostel General Secretaries and a small fraction of the other council members. Although students are welcome to attend these meetings, hardly any non-elected person was present. The few who attended felt that the student community of IIT Madras was poorly represented in this meeting where crucial decisions were to be taken on important issues relevant to the students. From the faculty side, the Dean of Students, and Prof. Nitin Chandrachoodan were present.
The meeting began with the Students General Secretary (SGS) and the Hostel Affairs Secretary (HAS) giving a combined presentation to the audience.
Catering Tender Process, 2012
The HAS explained that this time, the caterers were tested against an eligibility criterion which stated that they must have served at least 500 students successfully for a continuous period of 1 year in an institute of repute. A performance clause was imposed on the caterers according to which their payment would be reduced in case of consistent negative feedback from students. In addition to the daily menu, regular provision of extras was also demanded. To avoid last year’s situation, where A-Diet quoted a petty amount of Rs.50 per student to get the tender, a minimum base price was fixed this time below which no bid was accepted. The HAS then presented a concise timeline which highlighted all the important dates in the complete tendering process starting from advertising in the newspapers on 28th April and culminating to the awarding of tenders on 10th July 2012. Six caterers, namely RR, SGR, SK, VTH, ISS and KMK, submitted their initial bids. The HAS and his team then calculated a rough estimate of the students’ daily rate for dining. Krishna/Cauvery mess in the month of March 2012 and in the year 2010-11 was used as a template and the rate was calculated to be Rs.81.5 and Rs.81 respectively. Based on this data, further rounds of negotiation with the caterers took place following which, the final tenders were awarded. The scenario at the starting of the semester was that SK and RR caterers were operating messes in Himalaya at the daily rate of Rs.82 per student. HM and VTH were operating in Cauvery and Krishna at the rate of Rs.82 and Rs.76 respectively. SGR was functioning in Vindhya and Sarayu extension at Rs.82 per student and ISS was allotted the Food Court in Himalaya.
The SGS then took over and presented the details of the new facilities approved by the Dean’s Committee. The All India Travel Agency in the Students Facilities Centre(SFC) complex will be replaced by a Railway Tatkal Counter. The STD booth will be removed because of its redundancy. New additions proposed also include a juice shop and increased seating capacity. The establishment of a complex near Sharavati to cater to the girls’ needs was also approved. The complex will comprise of a stationery/general items shop, a cycle repair shop, a beauty parlour, a packaged food items shop and an ironing shop. The long discussed 24-hour canteen was approved as well and the SGS assured everyone present that it will be up and running in another 1.5 months. Next, the HAS talked about the Power Laundry tendering process. The contract was given to a service called Wassup and the Power Laundry will be operational in another 10 days. This semester, the clothes will be collected from the students and washed at the contractor’s base. Later the system would be restored to the basement of Brahmaputra. Everyday from 2-5pm, the basement would be open for walk-in delivery. From 5-9:15pm, the pickup and delivery would be at the hostels following a fixed time table. The free photocopying facility has been available since 10th September at Technografix (Gurunath) and Raja Xerox (Sarayu). The restriction imposed is 30 copies per day. Within this limit, notes and journals can be photocopied for free.
Review of teams falling in the purview of SGS and HAS
Mess Monitoring Committee: The menus of all the messes were prepared by the MMC. The HAS said that they were planning to improve the variety in the Food Court menu. Everyone agreed to the fact that there was a need for better mess ratings and online feedback.
Monitoring Committee for Students Facilities: The MCSF is working on getting more food items to be added to the GFC menu. Construction of an upper tier in Zaitoon is already underway and this new section will be used exclusively for serving barbecue items.
Disaster Management Committee: The DMC has already organised fire drills in many departments. They are planning to conduct an emergency health care workshop in collaboration with an NGO called ALERT.
Institute Facilities Team: This new team is making standardised manuals explaining some basic procedures in the institute, such as applying for a new Smart Card etc. They will also be used to think about any prospective new facilities that need to be introduced in the campus.
Institute Design Team: Their primary focus currently is to improve and update the institute web page. The SGS stressed on the importance of an interactive and up-to-date web page by citing the example of the Stanford web page.
General Secretary Council: This Council was basically created for incorporating the Hostel General Secretaries in the work of the SGS and the HAS. In this way, the work will be more streamlined and this Council has been operational right from the beginning of the new tenure.
Institute Web-ops and Mob-ops: For the first time, we are having a Mobile operations team in the institute. They are working on creating useful applications such as an app which would tell you the details regarding the timing and the whereabouts of the buses in the institute, or maybe give you a list of important contacts in the institute whenever needed.
Sustainability Network: The S-Net team is trying to have a Sustainability Summit. They will also attempt to recycle paper to make notebooks.
Alumni Affairs: Along with the Institute Sports Secretary, they are planning a Sports Alumni Meet.
Extra Mural Lectures: The EML team has already conducted 2 lectures till now and 2 more are scheduled in the month of September. Attempts are being made to publicise the EMLs and a YouTube channel and Facebook page have already been launched.
Mitr: Apart from the orientation, a freshman forum was set up in the summer to address queries. Mock quizzes were conducted before Quiz 1. A confession box will be launched soon.
Colloquium: The Colloquium team held its first session last month, and recently held a panel discussion on the Kudankulam issue. They are trying to organise a Chennai-level Colloquium.