Student Government Elections: Making Sense Of The YIF Representation In The Student Government

 Editor: Ananya Khandelwal

                      In the wake of the current student body elections, where the parties – Dhamma, Moksh and Prakrit and the independent candidate Esther David – are campaigning hard, there is one community within the student body, that’s blissfully unaware about what’s going on – the Young India Fellows.

And honestly, you can’t blame the YIFs. Given how hectic their schedules are – from attending diverse courses to honing their academic writing skills and their 8-month long experiential learning module – you really can’t expect them to sit at length each evening and sift through the bucketful of mails that they’ve left unread to understand the whats, whos and hows of the Grand Ashokan Elections.

Yet, even amongst the YIFs, there has been one lingering thought: What would it be like, to have a couple of YIFs representing the cohort in the Ashoka Student Government?

Which is why, I decided to ask the YIFs about their take on a YIF representation in the student government and I’ve gotten some interesting results for the same:

THE PROS

1. Diversity = Better Decisions

As you all know, the YIFs are all students in the age range of 21 to 28 who are from diverse backgrounds. Coming from different parts of the country, some are freshly minted graduates, ready to seize any opportunity that comes their way, while some are mature beings, with a rich work or academic experience. Either way, their diverse perspectives would surely enrichen the quality of student government at Ashoka .

2. Getting Two Cents On The YIFS’ Point of View

 Since Ashoka is a fully residential campus, it would be fair to have some YIFs express their take on the residential, cultural or ever clerical issues they face. Moreover, if there are decisions to be made for the entire student body, having YIF representatives would ensure that the decisions would also equally be beneficial for everyone.

3. YIFS + UGS = BFFS Forever?

It is a mystery, universally acknowledged that the YIFs and the UGs don’t mingle together much, unless the fellows participate in the same extracurricular activities as the undergraduates.

If there is YIF representation in an important body like the Ashoka Student Government, then YIFs and UGs will get to work in closer proximity and can mutually learn from one another. Moreover, there can be a two-way mentorship of sorts, where the YIFs bring with them their rich experience, while the UGs give an exposure to them to the perks of having an extensive three-or-four-year-long liberal arts education.

***

However, despite the benefits that YIF representation brings with it, the fellows who I interacted with, warned me about the cons, which are as follows:

THE CONS

1. Burying Under The Mountain Of The YIF Workload

The YIFs are often buried under a lot of workload. There are times when it feels like they are trying hard not to crumble under the weight of the sky. Everyday, they have to shuttle between diverse courses and critical writings, completing assignments and ensuring that they get a decent enough grade. During the weekends, they are assigned work with regards to their live internship-esque project, the Experiential Learning Module. And if that’s not enough, there are some fellows who are also a part of varied committees and there are some who are the Resident Assistants.

With all of this pressure, it becomes really quite a task for the fellows to take up different responsibilities.

2. Short Course, but Will it be Sweet for the Student Government?

Unlike the UG programme, the fellowship is pretty short – it’s just a year long and within that year, one ends up taking a lot of time orienting themselves with the demands of the programme. By the time people get to learn the ropes of the fellowship, it’s halfway over. And owing to the fact that the elections are happening now, towards the approaching end of the fellowship, it seems to be difficult to have YIFs’ representation.

3. No time-turners to keep up  

Unfortunately, the YIFs’ schedules are so jam-packed that there are times, when there would be scheduling conflicts and they have a limited amount of time that they can dedicate to other extracurricular activities. Even attending town halls becomes a bit tricky, because at times they are organized during the fellows’ classes.

***

If the cons could be taken into consideration and an optimal solution could be found, then even the YIFs can be a part of the wider Ashokan Student Government. Following this, even the MA Eco, the MLS and the PhD people could join in and add  diversity to the student government body.

That, I believe, it would capture the very essence of the diversity Ashoka has to offer.