Overview of the manifesto:
Shreya’s manifesto focuses on increasing the efficiency, outreach, and inclusivity of the board. Her main agendas include improving the skill-set and work ethic of journalists and technical editors through various mechanisms. The need to have more involvement of PG students and professors for a more diverse view of the IITD community. Making social media platforms more interactive, and all in all to make the board more active and relevant to the whole of the population in its functioning.
The subjects of concern and their replies by Shreya:
1. The parameters of assessment of the grading system for the journalists.
The “grading system” is being put in place to keep track of what work each journo/techie is doing and to ensure that there is equal work distribution. It will serve as a reminder for journos/ techies who slack off to work more based on this. For Chief Editors, they are accountable to the General Secretary and are assessed regularly. Five main parameters on which each journo/techie are judged– the quality of work, ability to adhere to deadlines, initiatives/enthusiasm, amount of work done, responsibility toward work.
2. The need for introducing a panel, mechanisms of formation of the panel, and its jurisdiction.
Constituting the panel is a strenuous process which would first require discussions with the President of the board, which will be done once the session begins. After this, it would need a proposal to be put up in SAC since this is a constitutional change for the board. So, due to the dynamics involved in this decision, it would be difficult to comment on when SAC approves this decision. However, I hope we can close this by the end of the first semester. Some things are to be discussed with the President, so I won’t comment on the jurisdiction of the panel. For the requirement for a panel, people working with the board for two years understand things better about the admin. It is an excellent way to retain their experience and thus make use of it. I believe this will improve the quality of issues covered by the BSP.
3. BSP Stalls, and status of their completion, considering that they were a significant point of concern last tenure.
SAC has approved the proposal for BSP stalls. However, discussions on the type of stalls to be installed and its budgeting is still in process. I have already had a meeting with the Dean of Student Affairs regarding the budget details, and I hope in the next SAC meeting, the order for these stalls will be finalised.
4. Meaning of “integrating the creative and technical teams”
This point aims to increase interaction between these two segments of BSP. In the past few years, communication gaps were noticed between Journalists and Technical Editors. This gap compromised upon the maximum potential of BSP. As a step towards integration, in this year’s Inception, the Journalists and Technical Editors were made to critique each article (of the previous edition of Inception) on design and content together. Last time this had not been done in the same way. I think it is a step toward achieving a better communicating team soon.
5. The mechanisms for crowdsourcing ideas
There is a list of citizen journalists; people who have shown enthusiasm in the past to work with the board. Many of them actively contributed to BSP’s crowdsourced magazine, Muse, last year. A form will be floated again to allow new people to join this team, once freshers arrive. Additionally, I plan on encouraging the journos and techies to promote the activities of the board more proactively at hostel level.
6. Extending the point for outreach, an effective method of reaching out, especially reaching out to the PG populace, and logistics of adding PG participation points to the trophy
I agree with the fact that PG population has not actively been involved with our board. Our reliance on electronic modes of communication, like institute email, to communicate with them is a significant cause of their lack of involvement. Here I would like to highlight the fact that human interaction has been lacking. In this context, BSP has one member in the present team who is PG, in contrast to the situation in the past few years.
Additionally, BSP has a WhatsApp group with PG SAC reps and the Chief Editor + GSec, a new addition this year. We have been in constant touch with them and have gained insight into some of their problems like the PM fellowship, shortage of water supply in Blocks etc. We hope to include a few articles focussing on PG problems in Inquirer. Concerning the BSP trophy, addition to BSP trophy would mean that each hostel has to have some participation. And right now, we don’t have PG students willing enough from each hostel. BSP first needs to establish a strong base with PG, before thinking about BSP trophy points.
7. Aims for making the board more appealing to freshers, and increasing transparency for submissions for various competitions
I accept that active fresher participation has been a problem, which was discussed at length in the last tenure as well. This year, I plan to shift competitions like The Bluffington Post to the end of the first semester. Besides, Literati intends to have more competitive events (both offline and online), which will involve freshers to a greater extent. As far as the appeal of the board to the freshers is concerned, the journos and techies will be spearheading this, beginning right from the Tour of Stalls. They will be responsible for increasing the visibility of the board by more frequent hostel meeting for different events that we will be having throughout the year. Regarding publicity, Muse entry submissions will be publicised through social media platforms as well as through the institute email.
- Shreya states the grading system will help them in quantifying the progress of each journo, and additionally help in ensuring no one is slacking off. Clubbed with her bi-yearly recruitment policy, I can see how this is a bright point to increase efficiency in tracking work done.
- The panel seems like an ambitious idea, and it is too early to comment about it right now. The need for the panel seems reasonably justified, in the sense that working with people having two years of experience will both increase the quality of content and guidance for the team.
- Talks about the budget have begun at the very least, which is a good sign. I buy the fact that it is a budget dependent issue.
- It is a fair point though we are yet to see a tangible move in this regard.
- The citizen journalists are an excellent mechanism to increase involvement, especially with supervised distribution of work entirely to this body. Additionally, the journos and techies will be held accountable to their responsibility of hostel engagement by Shreya’s idea of a grading system. It seems like a win-win on the outreach in this regard.
- With the initiative of being in contact with PG SAC reps and a PG member in the team itself, I hope we’ll be able to see more PG footfall. While PG participation may increase if included into BSP trophy, some hostels will perform poorly in this part since there is no regular interaction with them.
- A tangible difference is already visible by BSP’s social media activity this year (especially for Instagram). Additionally, with respect to freshers participation, shifting some competitions will increase appeal among the freshers.
The manifesto is indeed not perfect, there are loose ends, but those are few. The manifesto addresses many of the issues that have gone unnoticed in the past, tackling the inherent problems of BSP, also presenting solutions to the flaws in the system. How well this manifesto lives up to its words will be seen with time.
By Hetvi Jethwani