Published and written for the Hindu EducationPlus in September 2011.
Students keep teachers in the loop and seek their advice too
College annual fest is the event that students eagerly wait for. Apart from the fun, frolic and platform that it offers to students to exhibit their talents, the fest is also an acid test of some students’ managerial skills, as well as the flexibility in decision-making of the teachers. So, what goes into organising an inter-collegiate fest that draws big sponsor money and even bigger crowds?
It all begins with the forming of a core committee that includes teaching staff as well as student representatives. Students carry out the creative, administrative and logistical part of the festival, but all powers of approval (and disapproval) lie with the teachers, who head the committee. Students and teachers tell us about the goings-on behind closed organising committee doors:
Gayathri Iyer, third year BA (Communicative English), Mount Carmel College: The teachers who are part of the welfare committee that organises ‘Cul-ah,’ our annual cultural fest, have the final say when it comes to funding, permission and other matters. They do essentially draw the line for us, and are an approval body. Reaching a consensus is difficult and the final verdict is given by them, which we cannot question. Despite this, I feel they are a requirement. Their expertise in matters such as administration is especially helpful.
Divya R.C., Welfare Committee Officer, Mount Carmel College:When it comes to organising festivals, most of the job is done by students. Our job is just to monitor their plans and give information, as well as to provide them with rules and regulations to follow.
We make sure that execution of all decisions is under the college framework. With regards to participation in the organising process, teachers and students always work together. It is a learning process for them, and I’m sure they feel they need us. As for reaching a consensus, in committee meetings, we sit down and discuss all festival matters with students. Additionally, there are senior and junior officers within the committee, among whom consultation and consensus is necessary.
Shariq Rafeek, Academic Coordinator, Student Union of St. Joseph’s College of Commerce: I feel that at some level, teachers should be involved. When there are untoward incidents, it is the institution’s reputation that is tarnished. The teachers should know what we are doing. Further, when we are organising our festivals ‘Chanakya’, ‘Kalotsav’ or ‘Cipher’, teachers pitch in with appealing ideas. After all, the best ideas come out only when there are more minds involved. There needs to be control over what we, as festival planners, are allowed or not allowed to do. Since teachers are involved from the very start, we know what to expect and give suggestions accordingly. They take our opinions and ideas into account as well.
Sneha Rai, Student Governor, Student Council of St. Joseph’s College of Commerce: The teachers’ involvement in organising festivals is in drawing the final guidelines. We ensure that all ideas, activities and events are kept in check, and are in line with the expectations and ethos of the college. The way the council works is such that activities are proposed by students, and then approved by teachers. I feel students need the practical touch that teachers provide. They go with ideas that are based on hype and popularity. They may not have the vision that teachers have in the organising process. But they do bring a lot of ideas to the table. We usually approve them based on whether they match our expectations. Most of the time, we adjust and give the students their space.
Fasila Hanis, third year B.A., St. Aloysius College: We faced several problems when it came to organising our annual festival ‘Artbeat.’ The teachers who were part of the organising committee rejected many of the themes we had suggested for our festival. They wanted the theme to be ‘socially relevant’.
With this example in mind, I think it’s important that students should be heard out. As organisers, we wanted to pick a theme that’s fun. Students should be granted a certain amount of freedom in such matters. I wish that teachers would learn to adjust. Everyone has his/her own opinion, and when we have committee meetings, they should give our ideas equal weight.
Aditi Gaitonde, M.Sc. Communication, Christ University: I think organising festivals with teachers is quite difficult. As committee head for our media festival ‘Media Meet,’ I realised it was a very dicey situation. The teachers give us freedom and at the same time, tell us where we go wrong. We always keep them in the loop with regards to our activities.
When there are meetings, we put our ideas together, and we need them for their approval, to keep us grounded. Being a post-graduate student, I think it gave us leeway since teachers knew we were more mature with responsibility. I don’t think we can do without teachers in the organising committee, though. Students don’t tend to handle responsibility well!