On 9th and 10th March, IIT Bombay hosted the 4th IIT Students’ Council Meet wherein student representatives from IITs across India came together to brainstorm on several issues. The Meet was open to students in charge of the hostel and academic affairs in each institute. IIT Bombay was represented in the Meet by Abhilash Karri (GSHA), Anmol Gupta (GSAA-UG) and Deekshith (GSAA-PG). Although this year saw a slight dip in attendance from 25 to 22 participants, there was a greater representation of the newer IITs. The points discussed in the meet ranged from pan-IIT issues such as Inter-IIT Semester exchange to mentoring of new IITs and exchanging information on best practices being followed in their respective institutes.
The meet was divided into four sessions based on the four main themes of topics that were discussed. The first one, Session 0, concentrated on the structure and policies for the Students’ Council Meet itself. The session began with a review of the minutes of the previous meet. Several ideas were discussed in order to increase the participation of student representatives in future meetings. A pertinent issue that was raised in the session was the accountability of the representatives with regards to the implementation of the decisions taken in the meet. It was decided that henceforth, the minutes shall be shared with the Directors and the concerned Deans of all IITs and the attendees would be answerable to their respective Director and Dean.
Session 1 revolved around issues pertaining to the academics of the institutes. The possibility of formalizing a structure for approving grants in order to enable undergraduate students to attend research conferences was discussed. The GSAA-UG also stated that the other representatives should try to convince their respective institutes to follow the footsteps of IIT Bombay and synchronise their academic calendars. This would facilitate the organization of inter-IIT initiatives like Inter-IIT Semester Exchange. Other options to strengthen the framework of the program were also discussed. Initiatives championed by our institute such as the option to avail special leave for academic or extra-curricular activities, and the constitution of a data analytics team to encourage proper utilization of data were widely lauded.
Session 2, held on the second day, was centered on student-led activities and initiatives. Karan Nikam, a member of Saathi, made a presentation on how the group functions and made several suggestions to help the other institutes to set up LGBTQ support groups in their institutes. National Cultural Organization (NCO) for first-year students, on the lines of NSO, which has been in the works for a couple of years, received in-principle approval from all IITs although an official decision has still not been taken. The representatives also ideated on ways to strengthen and utilize a pan-IIT alumni network for enriching cooperation and knowledge transfer between the IITs. Student representatives from our college sought opinions and suggestions on possible ways to reach a consensus between the students and institute functionaries on the conduct of valedictory functions, or ‘valfis’ as they are popularly known here.
The final session focused on issues that students face in their day-to-day lives and mostly fell under the domain of hostel affairs. The GSHA talked about the problems posed by the presence of stray animals on our campus and asked for ideas to deal with the issue. Several representatives also recognized the need for significantly improving the on-campus primary healthcare facilities currently available and discussed proposals for the same. IITB is majorly focussing on procuring better insurance policies and increasing the number of en-panelled hospitals enabling the students to avail the benefits from other cities as well. Other student representatives present also highlighted the necessity of having a competent and dedicated counselling centre, following the examples of the Student Wellness Centre in our institute and a few others. In order to improve wellness in the institute, the GSHA pitched for the provision of various services such as residential counsellors and wellness wardens. The council also discussed various things that can be done to improve the messing system. The GSHA stated that his council is exploring the possibility of introducing the NFC-based multi-messing system which will be employed to a cluster of private hostel messes. Students residing in these hostels can opt in to other private hostel messes by tapping the NFC card onto their Android Device.
The Meet ended with all members present agreeing to regularly update the existing common database of the policies in their respective institutes to promote transparency and aid comparative discussions in future meets. They further resolved to work towards increasing the significance and efficacy of the IIT Students’ Council Meets at both pan-IIT and intra-IIT level.
We hope that these Meets will result in stronger coordination and co-operation between IITs and create a robust framework for interaction and information exchange at the students’ level.
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