To have it or not?

Discussion

To have it or not?

In a democracy an intelligent debate is integral to the process of change and development, a group of students under the aegis of Young Leaders Collective organised a panel discussion on the viability of students’ union in colleges.




The panelists were Justice Santosh Hegde; PGR Sindhia, president, JD(S);
Adinath Narde, High Court advocate; Kanchan Kaur, a lecturer; and Madhav Kanoria, president, Students’ Bar Association, NLSIU.

The discussion was moderated by Dr Priyotosh Khan, an educationalist from Kolkata. “Student unions have been banned in most colleges in the City. We feel that they are needed to provide effective participation of students in college governance.

They also serve as a mediator for students in matters involving our interests,” said one of the founding members of YLC, Madhukeshwar Desai, a student from Christ College.

“Our intention is not to bring politics into colleges but rather to enhance the quality of life on campus, to work with the administration and faculty to build a learning community, and not a factory churning out degree holders,” he added.

YLC was started in November 2009 by a group of college friends who felt strongly about the need for students to get involved in the governing process and policy decisions that affect them in their colleges.

“Right now we have no means of addressing our grievances with management. We are not allowed to approach the administration as a group and if we go singly we are ignored or brushed aside,” said Maulik Doshi, another student.

“While students in urban cities like Bangalore who tend to live in comfort zones and remain untouched by the problems that affect the rest of the country, student unions may encourage them to think of and debate topics other than television or fashion.” said Kanchan Kaur.

“However unions may well turn out to be a double edged sword with political parties getting in on the act and pumping money and muscle power into these student bodies. It has happened in colleges across the country,” she added.  

Santosh Hegde categorically felt that the formation of student unions would create an unhealthy political climate in educational institutions. “You do not need unions to address your problems. They can be done through dialogue and representation.

Concentrate on your education and then enter politics if you so choose,” he advised the young gathering. “We feel that an apolitical student union can play an important role in the decision making process at the college while providing a wide
variety of services and activities that enhance the total student experience.

We need to represent the students’ needs and concerns through a recognised body that management will listen to and take cognisance of,” said Pranay Prakash, a student from R V College of Engineering. “We are looking at student empowerment, not student politicisation,” he concluded.

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