What happens when a group of motivated students decide to turn around a flagging college magazine by completely revamping the magazine? Well they succeed, they bring in guest writers like Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Richard Stallman, Dr. Shashi Tharoor and Rashmi Bansal. Readers take notice, they wait eagerly for the next issue to come. In a institute where elections are already banned, this magazine starts creating opinion with a view to bridge the gap between the students and the faculty. This means two things, explain the actions taken by the faculty or administration to the students and ensure that the greviences of the students reach the concerned authorities. And sometimes, this means criticizing some incidents , particulary the complete lack of response or timely action when a fire broke out in a hostel. These students reported what they saw – college authorities clueless as to how to put out the fire, where the fire extinguisher is and most importantly the fact that there was no water in the hostel at that time, a rather frequent phenomenon at our hostels. These foolish students thought that this would make the faculty wake up to the incident, learn from their mistake and ensure that fire-preparedness is maintained in future, lest we have charred bodies to unravel next time such a thing occurs. And what fools they were. And to add to their foolishness, they also added another article on the various disciplinary committees that are formed and the fines that are imposed for such crimes as forgetting to switch of the lights or using the word “Sexy” inside hostel premises, fines anywhere between Rs. 50 to 300, whatever comes up in the lottery that minute.
The authorities did not take this kindly. After all, students were not supposed to speak out, not when this could be read by outsiders, and certainly not when this magazine was largely funded by the college. What ensued was a disciplinary committee(Disco) with the unsaid agenda, “Show’em whos the Boss”. The editors were called one by one into the closed room, questions fired from all directions, students were reprimanded for their conduct including (but not limited to) their lack of mastery over the Hindi language. Each student is grilled for 30 to 45 mins and the,predetermined, verdict announced. The offending articles shall be removed, the original magazine too will be removed from the website and a new one put up along with a written apology stating that the facts we presented were wrong and ill conceived. The students grudgingly do it. May be we were really wrong with some of the facts. May be we shouldn’t have pointed out flaws like that. They are after all our teachers. We accepted all their conditions, of course the decision was made easier by the fact that we had no other option after all.
And we hoped, things were back to normal. We don’t critisize them and they let us do our thing. A perfect arrangement. But it seems the establishment had other things brewing. Already curbs were put in place to screen every word going into print, the final draft of all articles had to be passed by a chain of 6 faculty members and after getting signatures by all of them, could we go to print. And we accepted it. But on the 4th of Feb, we received a rude shock, the magazine committee was to reconstructed (read dissolved) and expanded. A committee was formed for this purpose and its job was, as the official memo says
1. To review the scope / contents of the news letter
2. To invite nominations as editors from the students and carry out
3. To suggest a system of information collection / retreival, screening,
editting, documenting, printing, circulation and feed back
4. To review / suggest financial support for the news latter.
(Pls notice the word “news latter” 😉 )
We had no idea this was coming. There is already a team in place that brings out Renesa, the college magazine, every month and are doing a great job of it. So why form a new team right in the middle of the academic year? The whole team had a meeting at night and we decided we were not going to take it lying down and we will all resign before they could dismantle us. Also we would not be part of any new committee that is formed. We would rather love to watch the new committee come and fail, fail miserably. A meeting with faculty advisers, the next day, confirmed our worst fears. Yes, the team would be reconstructed, with more bureaucracy added in the form of a General Secretary, Cultural Secretary and Lady Representative, besides a few more members of the faculty as ex-officio members. Apparently, all this new additions were supposed to give the magazine the supposed required legitimacy and official recognition. Keep in mind that the magazine has always been official, there have been two faculty advisers overseeing our work and we receive funding from the college, it is a mouth piece of the students of SVNIT. Also we were invited to send in our resumes for the post of editors in this new team.
Our grounds of discontent are many and obvious. For one, why is the administration bent on putting in place its own selected team? For those who are not aware, our university banned elections 3 years ago and since then the General Secretary, Cultural Secretary and Lady Representative have been selected by the administration based on their CGPA alone. And we have seen how well these elected representatives have managed the affairs of the students. Most of these elected representatives had never worked in a single committee or event of the college, you can’t really do that when you have a 9.9999 CGPA to maintain. And once again it has been mostly us, some low CGPA idiots, who have stepped forward at the time of crisis and work behind the scenes, round the clock, to make thing happen while our appointed representatives were running clueless.
We did not want these people to tell us what to write, most of them had never sent in a single article for the magazine. We have our screening process in place to select articles and it has served us well. Also first they would disband us, and then ask us to sit for interviews to form a new team. Damn unacceptable. Our selection process has always been transparent, the seniors selected the juniors based on their writing skills. We were asked to write an article and bring it to the panel which then made the selection. And no, none of our faculty have the time to go through that many articles to select the best, after all wasn’t the selection for General Secretary, Cultural Secretary and Lady Representative over in less than a hour.
Renesa has always stood for freedom of speech, we are the fourth pillar of democracy in this institution. But apparently, democracy here is passe, its a dictatorship baby. And we protest. We have asked our members to think for themselves (after all that’s what freedom is all about) and then decide if they want to be a part of the new Renesa or resign. As of now many have sent in their resignations and I shall send in mine shortly.
We refuse to sit mum when wrong happens. We value our freedom and will protect it all costs. Ironically, the theme of our last issue was Freedom and it featured Richard Matthew Stallman as a guest writer.
Finally, I have nothing against the elected GS,CS or LR. The hold they post they do because of their CGPA and many of them would be happy to vacate it for a more interested candidate. They are at no fault, they are my friends. They are part of the system. But they are awesome people, and helluve smart too.
If you want any of our previous issues, just let me know. Some students have decided to make a peaceful protest on Monday (8th Feb) by wearing black. Lets see what happens. In case you want a unofficial PDF based Febraury issue of Renesa to come out, drop an sms at +919825730603. That will be our parting shot.
Until we meet again,
Senior Editor, Tech Chaser and Website Guy, Renesa