The past is evident of the fact that the Student Council elections have never fallen short on transcending all premeditated expectations, providing an eclectic mix of intensely dramatic and controversial episodes. Such was the case for the 2016 Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) elections, which witnessed a blood-curdling election day. With a long delay, multiple recounts, and nail-biting live updates from various departments, the PUSU (Panjab University Students Union) led alliance was finally declared the winner having swept clean through the PUCSC polls acquiring all the 4 seats of President, Vice President, Secretary and Joint Secretary. Ending PUSU’s 3 year hard and long hiatus with a strong comeback, the panel so formed was Nishant Kaushal as President, Avneet Kaur as Vice President, Aashiq Mohammed as Secretary, and Amit Kaushik as Joint Secretary, restoring the council back to a student-run party.
But, what awaited the PUCSC in its elected term would turn out to be one of the most arduous journeys a council could go through. The 2016-17 session was indeed the darkest phase for the varsity which witnessed an enormous financial deficit, a deferral of salary and pension generation, a proposal for a fee hike of ridiculously enormous proportions, a potential university shut down, a massive slip in the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD)’s ranking from the 12th spot to the 33rd, and the viciously wayward protests of 11th April opposing the fee hike.
Prioritizing the need to combat the university’s financial crunch from Day 1 of the session, desperate measures were adopted by PUCSC which included regular meetings with the Senate and other government servants to gain an insight on the unwanted obstruction of the funds provision from the UGC. The situation worsened when a massive fee hike (1100% in some departments) was announced to cover the financial deficit and prevent the infelicitous university shut down. Following the announcement, the PUCSC joined hands with other parties prevalent in the campus to arrange protests directed towards opposing the unjust fee hike. After a long fought battle against the restrictive and ignorant authorities, the fee hike was eventually rolled back to a considerable amount a month later, recording a historic students’ union victory over injustice. Though, the call for help was later answered by the State Governments of Punjab and Haryana providing limited funds, a financial crisis still prevails, with the varsity still on the brink of worst case scenarios. But, this hard fought battle of the students, including the representatives of PUCSC 2016-17 has to be one of its foremost conquests in its one year term.
There have been several problems with the infrastructure and maintenance of the campus for quite some time now. The PUCSC took it in their hands this year to overcome these obstacles, installing Aquaguard 200 A.R.O’s in the Pharmacy Block (UIPS) which had numerous water problems, and maintaining a daily washroom cleanliness initiative in rest of the departments. The overcrowding problem in the reading room of the Main Library during the examination season was rectified by asking the authorities to open the Examination Hall and be made accessible to the students during late hours (10pm-6am).
However, even after numerous attempts made to improve the sanitation and/or infrastructural conditions of the departments, there seems to be a crooked system prevalent in the campus. From the washrooms lacking cleanliness to the bleak conditions of classrooms, a number of departments still lack the basic hygiene facilities. In a recent discovery, in the Block 4 of BH2, a water tank was found covered with spider webs, and disturbingly, this tank is used by hundreds of students daily for drinking purposes. A student from the Economics Department, when asked about the sanitation conditions of the department, added, “There is no water in the washrooms during summer and the poor drainage system of the urinals makes the washroom stink of urine all the time.” Another infrastructural problem with the campus that has been overlooked is the poor condition of the hostels. If the congested living space wasn’t a concerning issue, the poor quality of the hostel food mess is definitely one. Even though the PUCSC every year has worked hard to bring about changes in these areas, there are still innumerable areas which are yet to be worked upon. Recently, a proposal for a “vehicle and noise free” campus with rules and regulations directed to achieve a sound and lively environment in the campus, including a cycle dock station, was put forward but is yet to be implemented fully.
Over the years, the PUCSC has worked efficiently to make the campus a better place for the students by implementing different and unique strategies with great ups and downs. This year, the PUCSC took up a rather uniquely important issue to work upon which our society is extremely repulsive towards or just plain unaware, THE LGBTQ rights. Garvotsava 2017, the Pride Week was organized in late March creating awareness and celebrating the existence of the LGBTQ community, including a scheduled Pride Walk which received a massive turnout. Events like these prove to be a bright ray of hope in this ill-lit falling apart campus.
The PUCSC 2016-17 had a lot to offer during a hard time for the institution, shining through with great efficiency and effectiveness, even though quite a few aspects still need amelioration, it won’t be surprising to witness a somewhat identical panel this year.
About the Author:
17 Years Old. Currently pursuing BA Honours in the Economics Department, PU. A Movie buff, a Beatles/Nirvana fan, love to play the guitar and write songs.