Over a single weekend, we have seen a burst of much-needed activity since the lull between fest euphoria and mid-semester panic. Inter Halls, internships and IIM interviews are perhaps the second-most frequent topics of discussion. The first, of course, is the upcoming election, evidenced by the sudden profusion of monochrome this week, where 68 candidates don their mandatory Black and Whites to try secure themselves a position in next year’s Student Council as Secretaries, General Secretaries, and the Vice-President.
The Gymkhana elections give us an opportunity to examine two large issues. The first one is the significance of free and fair elections, away from the two p-words pervading our everyday conversations. This issue, we feature a full-length article by the outgoing Vice-President on this topic, and as such, the topic and all its extensions need no real elucidation. The second issue is the broader one on the effectiveness of Student Government in our campus. While we draw inspiration from campuses in the US and Europe for effective student Government, we must remember the most important component of this is student responsibility. The truth is, we are not always responsible about our actions here on campus, collectively or individually. The night time restrictions are direct evidence that our administration feels the students cannot handle themselves with the decency and respect that is ‘expected of an IIT student’ If reliable sources be believed, we came perilously close to going down the IIT Bombay road on LAN issues the past summer. We also have a bike ban on campus, which was anyway scheduled to take effect for some time. A common pattern is evident even to the remotely discerning: these are the basic liberties and freedoms we students are used to, that make life here so much easier. The liberties and freedoms we have make IIT campuses a model for student populations. We stand to lose these and a lot more, systematically, unless we prove to the administration, that these liberties are disjoint from any irregularities that might occur every now and then. The best, and easiest way to do this, is to take responsibility: starting with each individual, in his or her own domains. Some might skeptically presume this to be akin to voluntarily walking in a single file during leisure. In fact, this sense of responsibility is just about a single thought towards modifying one’s actions to minimize possible adverse effects on others. The reason we must, simply must, sit up and take notice of the issue of individual responsibility is very simple: to avoid an Orwellian existence in the near future.
We believe the Gymkhana elections and its subsequent functioning are a grotesque distortion of the term Student Government in its truest sense. Its saving grace, however, is that the spirit of the two are the same. To be a true Student Government worth emulating, we students must gain the trust and understanding of the Administration – first at our level as students, and only then on larger issues. Trust can only be gained by a direct show of responsibility as a whole. We need to stand up by hanging to our dignity, by not descending to the levels of bar-brawls. By living up to the name IIT. By not proclaiming our presumably elitist status like gold chains around a Hip Hop artist’s neck. By not saying “Peace maar. I leave in 3 years.” But instead saying, “I will make use of this opportunity. I will accept the responsibility that comes along with freedom. The responsibility of using it as a gift, not a right.” Change will be slow. It will be gradual. But we all know every drop of water makes an ocean. We need to change. Slowly but surely.
Meanwhile, let us all toast the spirit of each candidate contesting these elections, for their overpowering desire to be Student Representatives that sees them through pacts, fundas, sop boxes, the dry March heat, and more funda. Cheers!