“The New Normal”- With the online classes, online exams, projects, club work and everything going around in this pandemic ridden world, there is an endless list of problems that the NITK student community is confronting. In olden days when we were all at our beautiful beachside college, the flow of the information from this student community to the college administration was streamlined due to the presence of the Student Council. But with the current situation, many people are confused as to the current status of this communication channel, while others are unaffected by the consequences. 

Usually, the even semester ends with the election of the new council, but with COVID in play and the college lockdown, things needed to be tweaked and the council was rolled over and so were the responsibilities. 

To discuss more on this, we have Luv Nambiar (Student Council Joint Secretary, 2019-20) and Nikhil Raj Nune (Student Council General Secretary, 2019-20) with us as the Student Council representatives. We have seen both of these wonderful people work tirelessly as an integral part of the council last year. So, we asked them about the importance of the elections, why it is the need of the hour and what are the general stumbling blocks that the students have pointed out. This article will give an insight into the current thought process of the Council and put down the general outlook on the table.

The General Overview :

“ Frankly speaking, it’s a necessity to have a fully functional Student Council body owing to the current situation, as it requires a lot more time and effort to put forward and follow up on the student community’s voice and address their needs. 

Given the uncertainty, the Council’s involvement in the communication, it is crucial for the loop to be updated on the proceedings happening on-campus, and any major developments with regards to the conduct of the academic semester.” – Nikhil

“ When you hear about an “Online” Semester, you might get the notion that the semester will be chill. No need to “physically” attend classes. No need to go to the LHC to write the Mid-Sems, End-Sems and what not. Well, at least that’s what most of us thought. But I can surely say that it’s been quite the opposite. More quizzes, more number of assignments, the same number of class hours (recorded/live), the “extra” work whether it be preparing for the internship/placement season, taking online courses, projects, internships and on top of all that, household chores. It’s quite obvious with all this at hand, students will face numerous issues. They need a student body which can help them resolve these issues.”  – Luv 

Current scenario : 

“ With some guidance from the passed out Council members and our experience, we are trying our best to cater the student needs but certainly there’s been a delay due to the new working normal on campus and it’s being difficult for people working back on campus to digitalize the deliverables (transcripts, grade cards, etc) due to conventional paperwork followed till date and is certainly time-consuming.

Things are not the same, the Council’s inclusivity has certainly come down and it’s hard being just to convey the administrative decisions. But I’m sure this will not be the case after things resume to normal, as the administrative team has always been supportive and keen on student’s involvement. They are equally keen on having elections but the worsened COVID situation on campus has maybe delayed this furthermore.”  – Nikhil 

“ With everything online, there is an evident gap of communication between the admin and the students and the need to plug this gap is vital. On top of that, with the JEE Advanced Results announced and PG allotments, a new batch will soon be joining NITK and there will be lots of issues which needs to be handled effectively. 

Final years have passed out, many of the “existing” Students’ Council CRs have passed on their responsibility to other people and quite a few are not keen on continuing for another year.”  – Luv

The Final Stance:

“ Elections at this point of time would be a good move for the Council’s involvement and position to not change furthermore and regain back its place, and also elections would open up chances and give exposure to the new interested and deserving candidates(especially to the current second years). “  – Nikhil

“ With all these issues it’s quite obvious that conducting the elections now is vital to ensure the smooth functioning of college activities. Many might say that there are lots of disadvantages to this, and I agree, but the problems we would have if we didn’t have an election right now will outweigh those “disadvantages”. After the views from the Council, it is also important to listen to the students and see what they feel about Student Council Elections and the uncertainty surrounding it.”   – Luv

Now that we have an idea on the viewpoint of the council, it is also important to listen to the students directly and know how they feel about the current condition and if the Student Council elections bring hope to the community. So here are a few students from various batches being questioned about the aforementioned state of things.

The initial responses : 

“I personally look forward to student body elections. There are several reasons as to why but mostly it’s just because I feel a stable student body is necessary.”  -Final Year Btech student

“I can’t say I am looking forward to it. In truth during the course of my first year from what I have heard, due to the political nature of the elections, I find no value in my vote as I’m not associated with any political party in college.”  – 2nd year Btech student

“Yes, I feel that the link between the students and the administration of the college is weak at the moment, due to an inactive student council. The student council was the only reliable source of information and news regarding important events and announcements in the college and due to this, there have been quite a few instances in the past few months where we have had to wait for last-minute and unreliable announcements.”  – 3rd year Btech student

Here we can see how the outlook varies from student to student. While the 3rd and final year students are looking forward to the elections, quite a few 2nd years are yet to experience the whole process so they have many differing views about the same. Some feel the need for an immediate instalment of an active Council while others are fine with the way things are working.

The problems at hand :

“Several issues arise and if they are to be responded to, and that’s where a stable student body is needed who people can reach out to as and when required. That itself requires a student body to turn to as and when required. In several cases, for example in clubs, when there is any clarification needed, we do not know who to ask to get our queries clarified. There isn’t proper management of events and clashes happen which previously used to be less as they were monitored by a student body.”  -Final year Btech student 

“ Having a new Student Council is very important for the college, especially considering the fact that nobody is in college, we need effective communication between the admin and the students. Further all exclusive clubs and other clubs can start their budget work and a few other activities only after a fresh student council has formed.”  – 3rd year Btech student 

 And although it doesn’t affect me directly, we need people to think about the best method to onboard new admissions (whenever they come) as it will be a horribly confusing time for them. So yeah there are many problems that I feel are definitely not being taken into consideration.” – 3rd year Btech student

The Verdict:

Now we are more than halfway into the odd semester with no clear signs of the next council elections, which adds to the confusion which surrounds every sphere of life in these times. People in the council are overworked and the clear task distribution is unclear due to the vacancies created- right from the CRs to the Student Council President.

It’s evident that college has given its top priority in being resilient and efficient in establishing e-learning which is much applauded, while at the same time, it has made us realise that elections are also an integral part of this institution which needs to be prioritized and organized for the overall student welfare. 

In the end, it is important to remember that it is our core right to voice our opinions and grievances to the respective administrative bodies governing our institute. And for that to take place in a systematic and organized fashion, the Student Council is a fundamental construct which needs to be nurtured and rebuilt with time.