White Noise

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Perils Of Being An 8th Sem CLASS REP

If you think that the 8th semester is the easiest one to be a class rep, you are way off the mark. In fact, I took up the position thinking that there wouldn't be much work for the class rep in the final semester, what with just 4 subjects and no labs. But, now looking back over the past 4 months, I have been forced to concede that I was totally wrong.

Perhaps it might not have been so if the semester were not as meaningless as it ultimately was. There always has to be a purpose for doing things. Of course, one person's purpose for doing something might vary from appearing comical to downright idiotic to others. But, the fact remains that there has to be some aim in sight. In this case (8th sem), there were none to anyone.

Placements were over. MS applications were all completed. And a few were busy with MBA admission interviews. And so, no one gave a damn about the grades they would get ('no one' here refers to the vast majority of 115 out of the 130, for the rest 15 there is no world beyond the assessment scheduled next week).

Anyway, the point I am driving at is that the junta saw no reason to come to college (I saw Somesh probably twice the whole sem) and even if they did, they were happy sitting in the hostel and watching a movie or cricket or having a gabfest. This is where the plight of the class rep comes in. He is held responsible to maintain a decent strength (50 percent) in the class. And to add to his chagrin, he is expected to personally attend all classes.

And it does not help at all when people turn up from very long distances (20 min bike trips, that is) and find that the scheduled classes (sat com, invariably) have been cancelled. Also, perhaps, I dint quite have it in me to inspire these guys to come and attend classes, when I myself dint believe in the cause.

But, the work was simplified to some extent by 2 of the teachers. The Ethics classes, supposed to ingrain in us many vital moral aspects before we embark on our professional career, saw the most unethical of behaviors. But, it seems the teacher himself was only minimally aware of the happenings (while all the time, we thought he simply dint care). I got this notion when Jagadeesh related this event which happened when he and Bhuvanesh had gone to the Ethics master's office to take care of the attendance of the class. While finding that many people were lacking the minimum attendance, he seems to have said to Jaga that 'Are you people aware that some persons are in fact giving additional attendance? I noticed in one class that only 46 persons attended but 50 names had been entered' (thankfully, it had somehow entered his mind to check the count on some best possible day). This, to a guy who had just put proxy for 3 persons in that very same day's morning class.

But, even more colorful was the Environmental teacher. He never took a single lecture and exactly came to our batch for 18 classes (not days). His attendance-keeping was extraordinary. Sham dint attend a single class during the first assessment period (not that he came to any then after) and it was promptly mentioned in the assessment score card that he was present for 12 classes out of 15. There you have it!

TSN was ok to some extent. The guys who took it up were all pretty decent blokes. But, it too had its moments. For starters, ma'm stopped reading Vivekanandan's name after a few classes finding that he never turned up (Vision work, he'd say. But, we know better!!). And of course, I can't forget the day we went to her to get an assessment postponed by 2 days citing a 2 hour power failure in the hostel due to which we had no time to cram in the 200 odd slides (of course, we said that we had been learning continuously for 2 days to no avail).

But, sat com must take the cake. From a thousand cancelled classes to 2 1/2 hour marathon weekend sessions to the HOD's tangential references (mokkai might be more accurate) to MCQs to a semester paper which turned out to be an assortment of two assessments, I don't think I have enjoyed any subject more for the sheer entertainment value it offered.

Being a rep however has its merits. You now had a license to talk to people you have always wanted to but couldn't for lack of apparent reason. Your firefighting abilities improve tremendously and your sense of self-worth multiplies ten-fold when people approach you with their problems. Much more importantly, you get invited to all treats!

The cell phone is the most wonderful invention for a class rep, particularly now that his job is 95% that of a communicator. It does have its downsides though. I remember once playing Bridge all through the night, getting in the bed at 5.30, the power going out just then and somehow falling asleep by 6.30. By 7.15, a battery of calls and messages started pouring in, each demanding to know what, when and where the classes for the day were, format of PPT for the project review, regarding postponing the review, status of the proposed tour and worst of all, ‘Good Morning’ messages. During such times, you have a good mind to throw it right out of the window.

(to be contd. when the author is back in the mood)