For the common good

For the common good

Student Union

For the common good

However, there are unions in some colleges with a remarkable history of achievements.
“We are the biggest stake-holders in education and our opinion is what counts,” says Prasad, a law student of Christ University. “Some of the best institutes in the world enjoy a high degree of liberty and have strong fraternities and unions,” he adds.

‘Young Leaders Collective’ is a student organisation attempting to give power back to  students. Madhukeshvar, one of its founders, says, “The chance to serve one’s alma mater ensures that students leave with a sense of duty to the world.”

A senior lecturer in a City college explains the absence of a union in his college. “A union caused favouritism at the upper echelons, so we replaced it with a council consisting of class representatives.” However, the students say the representatives are arbitrarily picked at the beginning of the year. They need not necessarily have leadership qualities, and with no single leader, they also have no unified direction.

Successful models are being followed by some colleges in the last 20 years. St Joseph’s College used to conduct two exams a day with no gaps. Their union interceded with the management and had this relaxed. Anthony, former president of the union, said, “We used the profits from every cultural or sports event we organised to educate, equip and feed underprivileged children.” The Students’ Bar Council at NLSIU takes up cases of students who wish to pursue exchange programmes. They coach students having difficulties studying.They are now pushing for increased security protection and better infrastructure in their campus.

Contesting, campaigning and voting have been intricately planned in these institutions. Candidates must maintain a minimum academic and attendance percentage. St Joseph’s College, MCC and Jyoti Nivas College go to the extent of sourcing electronic voting machines.

Attendance is compulsory on election day. Students are allowed to put up posters and make speeches. Madhav Kanoria, president of the union at NLSIU, says, “Students know that they have come to study and we abhor rowdy activities.”

Shobna Matthew, an English lecturer at Christ University, says, “Antiquity gives stature and new colleges should consider adopting traditional values of honour.” The greatest fear in allowing unions is that of them being politicised by parties.

Shobna says, “Giving a union power with no responsibilities is what foments trouble. Members should earn the post legitimately and be assigned duties according to their capacities within a safe framework.”