When academicians and social workers criticise the 'politicisation' of educational institutions through student bodies, IIT Madras has been silently implementing a unique model of 'democratisation' of student bodies without politicization along party lines for the past 35 years. Student Affairs Council (SAC), the Student Parliament of the Institute with elected representatives has been successfully functioning within the IIT Madras campus since academic year 1980-81, taking care of student interest in both academic and non-academic matters. The first Student Constitution was formally approved by the Senate of IIT Madras on 6th December 1983, and has undergone 3 revisions, the last one in 2011. Now the fourth revision is under discussion. Recently SAC has been renamed as the Student Legislative Council (SLC).
Students Legislative Council (SLC) and Executive Council (EC)
This is the Parliament of the entire students' community of IIT Madras. Earlier it was known as 'Student Affairs Council (SAC)'. This body has 56 representatives elected from 20 hostels and 16 departments. Every year, elections are held in the month of March and the new SLC takes over in April. The Speaker is elected by the 56 representatives. Anybody can contest for the post of Speaker. The candidate should not hold any other office. Around 8000 plus students participate in this election process to elect their representatives. The Executive Council (EC, earlier known as Executive Wing EW) consists of 9 elected representatives to look after the various affairs like Academic, Research, Sports, Hostel, etc. These 9 representatives are elected by the 8000 students.
Student Election Commission
elections are held by the Student Election Commission (SEC) consisting of two
Professor-Officers nominated by Dean (Students) and three students nominated by
SLC. Every year during August, the
Speaker calls for nominations from all the students to be part of the Election
Commission. From out of the nominations
received, SLC recommends three students to the Dean for appointment to the Student
Election Commission. These three
students conduct elections, under the supervision of two Professors. Voting is
the date of the elections to the various posts is notified in March, interested
candidates file their nominations. Campaigns
based on political, religious, community or caste are strictly prohibited. The candidates can prepare a 'one page'
manifesto. 'Soap Box Meetings' are held
hostel-wise and department-wise on a specific day, when all the candidates
present their manifestos to their electors.
The electors openly question the candidates based on their manifestos.
Campaigning is stopped 24 hours before the election.
A separate 'Soap Box Meeting' is organised to
enable the candidates standing for the posts in the Executive Council to
present their manifestos to the entire student body. This is accompanied by
open and public debates. The candidates are not permitted to paste
posters in the campus and/or distribute pamphlets. The candidates can provide
their contents in the approved format to the SEC, who in turn will print
sufficient posters and paste them in approved places. E-mail campaign is
permitted with the approval of the SEC. Any violation of the campaign
guidelines will promptly disqualify the candidates concerned. A transparent and
responsive grievance redressal mechanism is in place.
Elections are held on a specified day between 3 PM and 8 PM.
20 polling booths are set up in the 20 hostels. A number of polling
booths are also set up in common places to enable day-scholars and others to
vote. Voting is done online using software. The election results are
formally announced within a couple of hours after the closing time of the
The election process is completed in March every year. However, there will be another election process in September to fill the vacancies, if any.
Functions of SLC and EC
outsiders are not generally permitted, the editorial team of PreSense got
special permission from the Speaker, Venkataraman Ganesh, a senior student of
the MA programme, to observe the proceedings of the SLC during this month. R. Nurullah (Senior Journalist and Vice
President of Sansad Ratna Awards Committee) and Prime Point Srinivasan (Editor
in Chief, PreSense) spent nearly two hours during the proceedings as observers.
They were impressed with the way the
students initiated and discussed various issues and submitted recommendations
to the Senate. During the proceedings, the
SLC was discussing at length, the pros and cons of allowing students to redo a
course to improve their grades. The
discussions were mature, without vested interest, and conducted solemnly.
to Venkataraman, the SLC's resolution has been sent to the Senate and is
expected to be approved. "Our system is
transparent. We do not want any
political interference in our system, though individually every one may have
his/her own personal preferences. Collectively,
we look at the welfare of the students and the image of the Institute. We never demand anything that can dilute the
quality of the education. Through this
system, we gain considerable hands-on experience in governance and to develop leadership
skills. Every year, the SLC discusses
and passes the annual budget to the extent of 15 million rupees. Every problem has a solution to go with it. We have eight thousand plus highly talented
students in our campus. We get trained
to use our talents to build our nation", he concluded with swelling pride.
Lyngdoh Committee also recommended in 2006 this type of model which was accepted by Supreme Court. IIT Madras implements this successful student governance model for the past 35 years and deserves to be studied and emulated by other Institutions/Universities in our country.
The Speaker of SLC can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By K. Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense