The Student’s Union 2016-17 Reflects On Their Year
Rochana Mohan, III Year B. A. English.
In conversation with the members of the Student’s Union 16 – 17 on the successes and failures that comes with being at the forefront of the student body.
The Student’s Union 16-17, comprising of Catherine Saranya, President, Kavya Ravi, Vice-President, Nikita Wilson, Secretary, Trishna Bhattacharya, Treasurer, Monica ‘Momo’ M. H., Cultural Secretary Shift I, and Shwetha Priya, Cultural Secretary Shift II, retires gracefully at the end of this academic year. Over the course of the year, Union 16-17 have made great strides forward in terms of student participation and activity. The members speak more on their year.
As SU 16-17, your motto for this year was Create, Connect and Change, with the intention to empower the students in a way. How did you manage to do this?
Catherine: Our broad areas of concern, which was waste management, green environment, electricity and water, students’ physical and mental health, and women empowerment, which aptly suited our social theme, The Changemaker Initiative. We tried to ask students to submit projects – like we’d have friends suggesting that they want certain things to be done. Our idea was to give them a platform to launch these kinds of visions they had for the betterment of the society.
Kavya: I think we really tried to work towards being huge changemakers. We introduced the Changemaker event and have more Breaktime Events. It was all in the small things that matter. That’s how we worked towards our motto.
Horizon 2017 was the very first Club Day held at SMC. Can you tell us on the response from students, as well as the reasoning behind creating such an event?
Kavya: Horizon was a new initiative. We felt this was a really good opportunity for the clubs to shine. We all want the talent within Stella to shine, where our students get the maximum opportunity to showcase their talent.
Catherine: We knew we would restrict ourselves if we only request the clubs to participate, so we got workshops to bring in more people and enhance the skill of students.
Monica: We decided that by having workshops and guest performances, we’d bring out student’s interest and each student will get an opportunity to learn something they wouldn’t have before. We also had the clubs performing and two external performances, to show them that we can go out that and these things can be done. We had about 15 workshops, which were a huge success. We had dozens and dozens of entries for the workshops, in fact, Folk Dance Club had over a 100 participants.”
Trishna: “Cultural activity is a part of our lives. Since we have ample number of clubs and their members in our college, we knew they were waiting to showcase what they have learnt over the course of the year.”
What were your motives behind the Breaktime Events conducted? To what means do you believe they were effective?
Catherine: These events work in line with our broad area of concern, like self-defense for women empowerment. We organized around 12-14 Breaktime Events this year. These Breaktime Events ranged from workshops to fun games such as musical chairs and even a stand-up comedy routine by an in-house stand-up comedian. The Events were usually held in the Big OAT and drew in slightly sizable crowds of interested students.
Trishna: Now that we have two clear shifts and shortened break timings, it’s really hard to organize for an event in that limited time. We did try to best of efforts into making a break time successful, but unfortunately the results weren’t that fruitful. Interacting with the students was the sole motive of break time events and connecting with them. I guess because of limited time everyone just chose to stick to the canteen.
What about Aquillae this year?
Catherine: Aquillae was originally scheduled to be on Deceber 10th . We had completed about 80% of the work involved for it, except the final decorations and backdrop. We even had an ad published in the Indian Express. Aquillae was cancelled three days before the scheduled date due to the passing of our Chief Minister, followed by Cyclone Vardah. We were then closed for the December holidays. When we came back, we were determined to have Aquillae, however, there is a rule that all collegial events must occur on a Saturday. The first Saturday of January was unavailable due to Pongal Celebrations, and the second Saturday had an Alumni Association meet. The Autonomy Review was also scheduled around the time of Aquillae, and it had been postponed twice already. We tried our best to make it happen but we didn’t have dates or a place.
There have been comments on Student’s Union 16-17, with regard to your efficacy. A few people have the opinion that you are the least effective or active Union. What are your comments on this?
Kavya: It’s fair that some people felt we were ineffective. Personally, in terms of the events we conducted – Fresher’s, Interyears, Breaktime Events and Horizon – we introduced a whole new number of events and the kind of effort we put into these events was massive, which we are very proud of. We’ve taken the input the students have given us and although it’s too late to execute these changes, we’ve spoken to the incoming Union about our shortcomings in hopes they can succeed.
Nikita: That question depends upon the basis in which you call us ineffective. We were effective in promoting the vision and mission of the college through our activities. Those who involved themselves in different activities enjoyed what we did for them. And ultimately how effective your leaders are majorly depends upon how much you support them and participate.
What were your most memorable events this year, beside major events within college?
Catherine: There was this girl who walked up to me after Union Day and said, “Akka, you’re my role model.” It was really touching. I didn’t expect I would reach out to so many people like that. It made my day, it made my year, it made my life. Also, Horizon 2017 was that there was nothing to refer to, and we had to start from scratch. Every minute detail we had to think about. We usually have the reports from past Unions, but this one we had to do by ourselves.
Kavya: For me it would definitely be after we pulled off a major event and we’d be sitting in the Union Room feeling like bombs because we aced a particular event. Also how the six of us watch some K-Dramas or movies together when we are free. Whenever we’re with each other, be it working or not working, it’s a favourite memory for me.
Nikita: So many! We 6 bonded absolutely well. Watching K-dramas and singing and dancing to k-pop was killer, dancing to Kala Chashma, our last sleepover…there are too many.
Trishna: Oh there are many, every day was a new lesson to be learnt. It’s the team that made it so, so much fun. Be it watching Korean dramas in union room or horror movies, even getting caught for sleeping the Union Room turned out to be a fun punishment. My favourite moment would be any moment where all 6 of us are there working towards something, backing up for each other. I love them!
Monica: Oh, there is a huge list I can give you. We sat together and we did watch K-Drama – when we were free, mind you – and that really strengthened our bond. If any issues or problems cropped up, we would solve it together. If you can’t work it together as a team, you cant be a Union. It’s a bunch of people running like headless chickens. It’s because we were at the same wavelength and we worked passed our differences. Each birthday, we’d get a cake – we’d cut it, laugh and have a whole bunch of fun. We did these little things and we bonded. When people go through tough spots together, they can be called friends.
Shwetha: There are so many memories. At the end of the year, all of us are content, happy and hopeful that we created, connected and changed. We have provided opportunities od our utmost support to the students. Many students appreciated and thanked us. I feel it is the biggest gift of my college life.We made so many friends and I remember so many faces that helped me. I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learnt. All the union activities are my favourite events.
We will miss Cathy, Kavs, Niki, Trish, Momo and Shwey – the six amazing girls who led an equally amazing student body. As we bid adieu to the Union 16-17, the most colourful, approachable and motivated group of leaders, we welcome the upcoming Students Union and wish them the very best in their endeavours.
[Photograph Source: Students Union 2016-17 Facebook Page.]