Interview with Celestine Joseph, Vice President, TSG.

Midway through his term as the VP, The Scholars’ Avenue catches up with Celestine Joseph on the progress of his proposals , his take on some campus buzz and his experience so far.

TSA: Could you shed some light on how effectively your proposals have been executed?

VP: One of the main proposals was to improve the working of the mess. The HMC had already planned to provide training to mess workers and this was done over the summers. Then, keeping in mind student participation, I formed a 4-member committee to look into mess related activities. They will basically analyze how things work in different messes and have the best practices incorporated in all halls. The committee would coordinate with the G.Secs, Mess of all halls. We’re currently trying to generate a rating system on the basis of feedback procured by the students.

TSA: Has there been any progress on the Student Internship Committee?

VP: I had a talk with the Dean of Alumni Affairs, and he’s in support of this idea. Right now, the idea is to have an informal group of students working in collaboration with the Alumni Cell. They’d be responsible for contacting foreign universities, requesting them to invite applications from our college.

TSA: Quite a few departments, say ECE, are restricting students from applying to foreign universities and are instead asking them to submit contacts of the universities they want to apply, which would then be followed up by the TnP representatives of that department. There have been a lot of complaints recently from foreign universities about spamming. Has the TnP taken any measures to prevent this?

VP: As far as I know, no such issue has been reported to the TnP as yet. The whole point of the Internship Committee is that it will contact universities on behalf of the students and tell them about the provision in our institute actually through which they can invite CVs. Once we get such an invite from an institute, I don’t expect the spamming problem to take place. Ultimately, the department will have a final say on this point and if they expect the students to follow a certain procedure while applying, as specified by the professor in charge of training and placement, then it has to be done that way.

TSA: Do you think the Internship Committee will be in place by the end of this year?

VP: Yes, definitely.

TSA: Considering the general trend, there are plenty of companies recruiting from branches such as CS, ECE, EE etc. Is there any focus to increase the number of companies recruiting from Metallurgy, Mining, Agriculture etc.?

VP: There are a number of companies that recruit students from all departments. Right now, as far as the placement team is concerned, we’re trying to have as many companies as possible that take students as interns. The Internship Committee will try to do the needful to help the students lagging behind with respect to internships.

TSA: What about the initiative Shubham Matah, the Ex-VP, had taken for having TnP representatives in every department?

VP: This year too, we have department representatives working in tandem with the placement committee. We already have department specific priority lists of companies to be contacted, as well as department brochures for many departments.

TSA: Moving onto the next proposal, you stated that you’d take care of the security outside the campus, install streetlights, etc. What have you done in this direction?

VP: Regarding security, I’ve constantly been in touch with the Police Inspector of our Gymkhana, who’s planted people outside the campus, including plain-clothes men. They handle the security around the area. With regard to the streetlights, we forwarded a proposal to the Municipality through the Institute Administration but didn’t receive a positive response from them.We are now trying to collaborate with railways , which along with the Municipality co-owns the land near Little Sisters Restaurant to construct the streetlights There is a consensus reached by the Director, wardens, and the Hall Council Members of the various halls, to at least put high mast lights at the entrance so that it is brightly lit up.

TSA: What do you think is an honest deadline?

VP: Just before DP, the registrar told me it’ll take around two weeks to finalize this.

TSA: There was a talk on online notice boards. Could you elaborate?

VP: We contacted quite a few third party vendors, a couple of which even came down to show us their boards. We had a meeting with Prof. B.K. Mathur regarding this, but were ultimately not satisfied with what they showed us. The gymkhana website has been up since the semester started. It was down during the DP due to some glitches. Certain minor changes are taking place in the website and it should be up very soon. Right now, we plan to float a survey, or rather an opinion poll, which would tell us the most preferred method of disseminating information. The poll would include options such as electronic noticeboard, website, emails, ScholsAve, DC++, internal noticeboard etc.

TSA : You had mentioned in your proposal that you wanted to improve the Gymkhana website by introducing a section for office bearers to share progress on their proposals. How is that going?

VP: Right now, a section like that is not there. It’s not much of an issue.

TSA: A lot of students aren’t really aware of the Gymkhana website. What steps have been taken to popularize the website?

VP: As soon as the website was up, we published a notice on DC++ informing the students about the website. We also have a Facebook page for the Gymkhana website.

TSA: The Internal Notice Board on the Institute website is currently inaccessible to students outside the campus. Students outside the campus who need important information like shortlists for companies therefore miss out. Do you think you can work on making the notice board accessible from outside the campus with authorization like a Username and Password?

VP: There are reasons why the notice board is accessible only from within the campus. Besides, regarding the Institute website, I cannot say anything. I don’t think it’s a big constraint for students. We can work on this but I am not promising anything.

TSA: Our last VP, Shubham Matah had initiated the Food Monitoring Committee to keep a check on the hygiene in the eateries dotting the campus. Is there any update on that front?

VP: The person in charge of the mess student body is also involved with the Food Monitoring Committee. We had a talk after DP and I gave him 2 weeks to have a committee in place.

TSA: There is talk among students that some halls aren’t going to participate in Illumination this year. How true is that?

VP: We had a meeting just before DP on 8th October in which all the halls participated and agreed to have Illumination. The rules for Illumination were decided and as far as I know, no hall is backing out.

TSA: There is also talk that after next year’s Inter IIT which will be hosted by IIT KGP, there wont be any further Inter IITs due to the enormous investment required to create facilities to host Inter IITs for the new IITs .

VP: You cannot just go by any rumor you hear. All IITs are supposed to have the infrastructure in place to host an Inter IIT. I don’t think the new IITs will be an exception. All you know about Inter IITs is who is going to host it next year and there is only an understanding about who’s going to host future IITs and there’s no guarantee as such. Officially, all we know is that we are going to host the Inter IIT next year. Beyond that, I doubt anyone can say for sure what’s going to happen. I don’t know who’s spreading these rumors.

TSA: Is the requisite infrastructure required to host next year’s Inter IIT in place?

VP: Not yet. We had a proposal of renovating our football and hockey field but this was dropped as we felt it might affect our practice. The lights are still under construction and construction of the synthetic tennis court is also underway. The new Gymkhana is also under construction.

TSA: In your last interview with us, you mentioned that you could implement Ankit Singh’s proposal too.

VP: As you probably must know, Techfest is conducting an Energy Saving Competition among all IITs and AIESEC has also taken this up. They proposed an Inter Hall Energy saving event.

TSA: What has been the journey like for you so far? Did your non core team background affect you in any way?

VP: In general, my experience so far has been good. I’ve got good teams working under me and the coordination with them has been good. It’s really exciting because you get involved in a lot of stuff and everyday there’s one thing or the other. I am working to get all my proposals implemented. We are also working on various other things like the TnP. This year we are planning to hold a Placement Drive in association with ‘Communiqué’ and ‘The Scholars’ Avenue’ . So we will be having a GD workshop , a CV building workshop and hopefully a Case Study workshop. We are also planning to get in touch with placed alumni for assistance.

TSA: Do you sometimes feel it difficult to bridge the gap between administration and students?

VP: I don’t think its much of an issue. Our administration is very open to suggestions and so far they have been very cooperative.

TSA: We had a really short DP Vacation this time. What was your role in the Calendar Meeting that decides the academic calendar for the year?

VP: This year’s calendar was decided during the tenure of the last VP. I will be attending the meeting that decides the academic calendar for the next year.

TSA: What are the major glitches you have faced as VP?

VP: I wouldn’t call it glitches. You have to understand that you have to give a little time for things to happen. I did not face a complete roadblock of any kind.

TSA: After all the work you do, do you get time to socialize?

VP: Definitely. I’ve had no issues with my social life.

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