Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Q) From conducting Convergenz including Prom nights to events like Tour of Stalls, how do you plan to promote the bonding and exposure of fresher students without the physical on-ground experience over online social platforms?
It certainly would be a major drawback without the physical on-ground experience but we have introduced certain new policies as well as made the online sessions much more interactive. Initially, there were 6-7 mentees who were designated to a mentor but we have reduced that to 4-5 mentees which would enhance a good open discussion. ‘Mentorship orientation’ and ‘Intern ke fundae’ witnessed huge participation which was accompanied by breakout sessions. Not only the process became easier but also enhanced one-on-one discussion where everyone got a chance to speak. Ice-breaking activities afterwards further add on a light-hearted tone so that freshers could open up easily. Moreover, we are planning to broadcast some short video clips involving the faculty etc. to greet the incoming freshers with a rousing reception.
You have mentioned about the Online campus which will implement a digital pipeline. So what progress has been made till now and what kind of events will be conducted to implement the same?
The new UG freshers will join the IIT Delhi campus in roughly 20 days through various online platforms. We have planned to host two live meetings, out of which one will be presided by the mentor team and the other by the representative team. Ice-breaking activities will be conducted during the evening time.
Currently, we have provided female volunteers for female JEE counselling 2020 in order to make them aware of the courses and departments of IIT Delhi from a students perspective.
Students who aren’t exposed to the language before, do not understand the importance of language on campus. It becomes very difficult for the language mentorship sessions to teach them right from the very basic alphabets to an extent, where they are comfortable in handling their minors, in just a short span. So, we have created a webpage ( which is in its process of being hosted at the IIT freshers page) that will provide content demonstrating the need of Language (mainly English) and resources which contain basics of listening, reading, writing and speaking skills for incoming freshers, who have had no or little prior experience with the language.
We have collaborated with an organisation named "Hello English" which would be providing personalised content to each student with a premium membership.
Integrated "Piazza" with academic mentorship to induce open-ended discussions amongst students.
In process of revamping the BSW website for online campus. Planned online orientation, with online help desks etc.
Students passing out this year have felt enormous pressure during the intern season and will during the placements. Thus, we are currently conducting 'Aluminescence', a series to provide mentorship from 2008-09 batch alumni who faced the economic recession as a result of which both the situations (2008-09 and 2020-21) are very similar with respect to the job opportunities and market.
Q)You have envisioned increasing the number of student mentors for the online semester. It must be equally challenging for them as well, to adapt to this new system. How do you plan to make sure that these mentors would not be under the pump because of excessive workload?
Reducing the number of mentees will surely reduce some stress on the mentors. Our mentors have already gone through an online semester which has helped them figure out its modus operandi. Moreover, we have streamlined the mentor selection procedure, previously we used to test the situational analytical skills but now we have incorporated various parameters like SGPA ( online semester ) vs CGPA, internet connectivity, their approach and willingness besides the objective parameters. We have introduced a 24X7 feedback mechanism, which in return would benefit us to maintain a workflow through the mentorship program.
Q) There are certain possibilities where many incoming students may not have adequate resources like a laptop or a high-speed internet. What is your plan of action for getting them accustomed quickly to this new environment?
BSW in collaboration with IIT Delhi has interacted with various students who are deprived of the resources due to financial problems and have identified such students from the current batch. IIT is providing dongles and tablets to students with poor internet connectivity. The same strategy would be used for the freshers incoming this year. Those with no connectivity but sufficient resources could function from the campus because of the relaxations in lockdown.
The existing BSW loans are being made more accessible to students through the State bank of India (SBI) lists.
Q) Compulsory Duet Life-map sessions will be pivotal for the mentor-mentee relationship, but fresher students look forward to interacting much more within themselves. Do you believe these sessions will be beneficial for mentee-mentee relationships as well?
It is one of the major responsibilities of a mentor to have a good bond with each of the mentees and help them get accustomed to the new system. Apart from interacting one on one with each mentee, a mentor would also conduct group voice/video calls. It might help others to clear their doubts and give them a platform to communicate with each other.
It has been observed during the offline semesters that a very few mentor-mentees engage with each other throughout the year. After 2 months of settling down, mentees feel they are good to go and the interaction faints away with the prevailing months. Life-map sessions will help to break the ice between the mentor and the mentee in the first semester and revamp their relationship in the second semester as well.
Q) Students are often apprehensive about learning a new language to communicate as well as face a lot of difficulties. How would you increase the reach of the integrated workbook-video lectures and make sure that the needy students make use of it?
Many TED talks have been organised and our own students from IIT Delhi have created videos highlighting the need and importance of having a good command over language for IIT life, internships and jobs and in future. During the offline semester, sometimes peer pressure causes apprehensions in the mind of students and they become hesitant to avail the facilities for learning the language. Making our platform listed on the main IIT Delhi website will make sure that students don't neglect the language mentorship program and independently avail these facilities without any hesitation.
Q) You have mentioned about this collaboration with SCS and YourDost officials to tackle the issues faced by students. When the new students will be exposed to the intensive academic semester schedule without many recreational activities. Do you expect the students will readily seek help? How will our counsellors deal with such a huge number of students?
I believe that the new online semester could actually benefit the students seeking counselling. During the offline semester, students hesitate to reach out for help from SCS as they fear that they might be spotted by other students. This stigma can be reduced, the online semester will boost the privacy of students seeking help as nobody else would come to know about it. Every student is just a click away and it won't be hard to just join a meeting or a webinar.
Initiating the Podcast series would bring out more one on one session to tackle the issues in the prevailing situation. Increasing the reach of YouDost and SCS will further increase the counselling process. SCS counsellors have connections with AIIMS, which collaboratively helps out students during the hour of need.
BSW in collaboration with NSS IIT Delhi recently conducted a webinar on “Mental Health during COVID 19, coping together”, presided by Nivida Chandra ( a PhD scholar from the humanities department. It received an overwhelming response and thus more such webinars will be conducted. We also partnered with the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and promoted the Global Mental Health Fest spread over 3 days. Apart from this, awareness regarding the importance of mental health is being spread through posts and videos on social media platforms. Collaborating with "Sangath” has helped us to improve mental health.
Q) Would you like to add anything more from your side?
Apart from the points mentioned in my manifesto, I will ensure efficient mentor training particularly focused for the online semester, better outreach of mental health and the stigmas associated with it and efficacy of academic mentorship both at the mentee and mentor level.
I believe that the Alumni mentorship programme has a lot of potential and can have a great impact on shaping students' futures. This year, I am planning to "address students' needs" rather than just calling an alumnus who is giving random life fundae.
Lastly being a part of the BSW family, I look forward to instiling a good bond between the operations and mentorship branches of BSW. It would add a lot of value to the entire team and the members would feel more connected. We are a team of young enthusiasts, who always keep a track of all the work done and never miss an opportunity to contribute to the board.
Some points outside my Manifesto which I plan to do:
Ensuring the interaction of academic mentors with course coordinators to discuss course content as it sometimes changes from year to year. Moodle access can also be provided to the academic mentors after discussion with CAIC.
Updating the existing BSW question papers resources.
Incorporating career fair alongside alumni clinic.
Link to Manifesto -
Interview by Victor Banerjee