What was your first impression of BSW?
The first impression I had of BSW was when I first came to IITD as a fresher. It was three years ago, and when I entered my hostel, Kailash, both the BSW reps (we fondly call them babloos) were sitting and chatting in the visitor's room. They helped us with every little thing, from moving into our rooms to adjusting to the new life, which got very overwhelming at times. In fact, my parents also commented that they're putting in so much effort to ensure student welfare and that they're so helpful and approachable. I remember that when I had my minor exams in the first semester, I was not able to cope up with the pressure. I was really stressed about my academics and I spoke to one of my reps. She comforted and consoled me about how things work and how should I go about them, and that instilled a sense of comfort in me. Over time, I felt that I too needed to help my juniors and pass on the knowledge and love I had received. So, when the form for the BSW representatives rolled out, I filled it and luckily got the position.
What's one thing you really love about BSW, and one thing you'd like to change?
The one aspect of BSW I really love is the bonding between the representatives and seniors. It almost feels like a family and a second home to me. In fact, my whole rep tenure was online and the first time I met my fellow representatives was when we all went for a trip. We were just a handful of strangers, and I hadn't met any of them before. Even though we barely knew each other, we bonded extremely well and it was so comforting to know that there is genuine affection and care among students. The new friends I made were very considerate and helped me in every little aspect. The one part that I would like to change is to sensitise the reps more and make them learn how to deal with different situations and act maturely, basically to focus more and more on rep training process.
You have contributed extensively to both the operations and the mentorship verticals of BSW. Which initiative of yours are you most proud of?
My entire rep tenure was online, so I was mainly assisting the secretaries. But when I myself became a secretary last year, I was able to conduct two offline events. One was an initiative we took for mental health day, where we posted boards in Wind-T, where people can write what made them happy. To be honest, we thought it wouldn't attract a lot of responses, but the enthusiasm we witnessed was huge. It brought participation not just from students, but from faculty members and security guards alike. I felt it was a good effort we took to keep spirits high on campus. The other event I conducted was STIC Dinner, which is a student-teacher interaction event. I organized this event in three hostels, and I managed the event flow, coordinated with POCs and professors to ensure that it was a success.
In your manifesto, you expressed your interest in revamping the BSW website. What new initiatives are you planning to take in this regard?
The BSW website was created 4 years ago, before the pandemic. Since then, we have had two online years, and have switched again recently to the offline mode. Now, most clubs and boards have adapted to a hybrid mode, which has both online and offline aspects. So, the website needs to be revamped accordingly.
You mentioned in your past contributions that you worked on setting up sanitary pad dispensers on the campus. How did you overcome the societal stigma around this sensitive issue?
This was an initiative I took in my secretary tenure and it has continued till date. I received a complaint from a student who explained the practical difficulty of carrying sanitary pads everywhere. She suggested to the BSW team that we can install pad dispensers on campus, and we took action. We have installed dispensers in washrooms that are far from the girls' hostels, such as the lecture hall complex, the main building, SAC, the central library etc. Earlier, it used to operate on a coin-based system, but now we are trying to switch to the UPI system which will be more convenient.
You've also worked a lot on spreading awareness about mental health and launching portals for the same. When did you realise the need for such a platform and how do you plan to approach this problem?
I realized the importance of mental health in my first year, when I felt overwhelmed because of my academics and the college atmosphere. My major and minor exams caused a lot of stress, and there were some mishaps too. When I became a BSW representative, I got to know about the vertical of BSW that deals with mental health and I contributed a lot on that front in my rep tenure. I then became the mental health secretary, and I genuinely wanted to help students out. In fact, I had some close friends who were suffering from intense academic and extracurricular pressure, and were spiraling into depression. Seeing this, we decided to create a portal where students can interact anonymously and pour out their feelings. This student chat data is available only to the counselors, and even BSW does not have access to this data. So, it is completely anonymous, and would not be leaked under any circumstances. This portal has benefited a lot of students.
Speranza, the annual fest of BSW, will be conducted in offline mode this year. How will you approach this shift and what new events can we expect?
Speranza is the first fest after the freshers arrive. It consists of a plethora of events like Mr and Ms Fresher, Prom Night etc. These events are meant to increase interaction and break the ice. We will try our best to incorporate offline events, not just for the incoming freshmen, but also for those from the 2021 batch, since they did not get to experience an offline Speranza either. There will be quite a few new and different sort of events for the students which you might know in time.
You've also mentioned in your vision that you'd like to initiate a rep training program. Why did you feel the need to do so?
When the freshers first arrive on campus, their main points of contact are the respective hostel representatives. For roughly a month or so, their interaction is quite restricted and is limited to the reps. In such a case, the reps should be able to comfort the students in case of any mishap, and they should be able to help them out in case of any difficulty or trouble. The jump from school to college can be quite staggering, and they need a strong support system in place to guide them. There should be no instances of negligence or unresponsiveness from the reps. They should know what is right, and should be adept in tackling situations with precision, humility and grace.
One of BSW's objectives is to increase interaction among the freshers and make them feel more comfortable. How did BSW transition from the offline to the online mode in this regard, and what were the challenges faced?
One of the main challenges we faced was that many students from underprivileged backgrounds did not have access to high-speed internet. They kept facing connectivity issues and were unable to interact with fellow friends and seniors. So, we couldn't really interact with everyone online. But we did conduct numerous ice-breaker and inter-hostel sessions to enable students to get to know their peers and widen their friend's circle. The BSW mentors also organised meets with their mentees, guiding them about academics, hostel culture, extracurricular activities, finding friends etc.
Any final message for the readers?
My message for students would be to not hesitate to ask for help. If you face any problem or difficulty in anything whatsoever, don't be reluctant to approach your hostel representatives, secretaries, club coordinators and other seniors. We all would be more than glad to help you out so feel free to reach out anytime. There's no need for you to take extra stress or tension, when you can seek guidance from a senior who's just a call away.
Interview By: - Maathangi Anirudh
Design By: - Prisha Jain, Shivam Jhanwar