SAC DGSec - Sehaj Virk
How would you describe your experience when you first joined IIT Delhi as a Fresher, and what did your first year at the institute look like?
Personally, I never had that mindset as, “Once I admit myself into an IIT, Life would be ‘chill’ from then on.” I knew that life at IIT would not be a bed of roses, but rather it would be more challenging than it used to be, given the kind of students that I would be competing with academically. With that thought in my head, my first few months at IIT had been quite taxing for me. It had been stressful, adjusting to the new environment and just figuring out how things work here. Later on, when we were all introduced to the various clubs on the campus, the only club that caught my eye vividly was Debating. Also, before joining the institute, I was an introverted person owing to those two years of staunch JEE preparation wherein the only concern I had was scoring well in my exams. The seniors at the debating club were really obliging and helped me get past that introverted nature of mine. The club gave me an opportunity to develop the skill of planning and articulating my thoughts, producing solid and well-planned arguments, expressing myself, and being confident in general. My seniors at DebSoc helped me immensely to get the knowledge of things happening at the campus. In my second semester at the institute, I tried exploring more clubs and was involved in eDc at the vertical of Corporate Alumni Relations. I had also joined OCS as a volunteer, and I was also engaged in AAIP.
At this point in the conversation, let’s dive into your second year at the institute. What were the activities you were involved in and the stuff you were juggling along with the academics?
In my second year, in fact, I had three PORs. The first would be pretty obvious here, and that is being the Debating Rep. I’ve totally left debating at this point, but yeah, I can definitely say that it had been a very integral part of my first and second year at the institute. I had spent most of my time performing my duties as a Debating Rep, including conducting various internal debating tournaments. Besides this, I was involved in eDc and AAIP. At AAIP, I had been the content writing representative wherein I used to develop content for the newsletters. The content was mainly focused on the Interviews I had with the Alumni and the Professors, which is essentially something very similar to your work as a Journalist. During my fourth semester, Debating and AAIP had been constant; however, I got distant from eDc around that time as I realized that it was not something I wanted to go ahead with.
What do you consider as your prime motivation to join SAC, and how was your experience at the elections which led to your nomination as the Secretary at the council?
My motivation to join SAC originated from my previous experiences at AAIP, OCS, and interactions with seniors at DebSoc. I realized that some people have good ideas that can bring substantial positive changes if put to action, but the problems lay in actually executing those ideas. Here comes the role of SAC, as SAC is a great platform that could help plan and implement those ideas benefitting the entire IITD Community. This happens to be this way as SAC has a direct link with the Deans, who are at the highest level of administration in the institute. SAC was definitely that one platform that I felt I needed, as I would be able to address and solve the issues that mattered to us, and it also presented me with a huge learning opportunity. Coming to my experience at the election, I gotta admit it was a hectic period. Let me explain how. A few months prior to the elections, Covid hit, and a sudden lockdown was announced. Here we weren’t done with our major exams yet. During the lockdown, I was pursuing my virtual research internship at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. I was almost done with my internship when the online college started in August, and we were bombarded with many tests, including the majors. This was immediately followed by the OCS internship interviews, for which I had to prepare myself for the interview and create a CV, and its around this time itself that elections were held. That’s how a lot of things happened to take place around the same time for me. I also had to make sure that I had a decent enough CG for the OCS internships, and I did put a lot of effort into my academics around the same time for that. I even practiced competitive coding in September that would help in getting shortlisted for a company. Simultaneously I had also been the AAIP Rep, where I was working as the content writing coordinator. Still, it did not demand a lot of my time as now I had to manage content writers and guide them throughout. All this while we had also been having our elections where I was trying for the position of SAC Secretary. Eventually, I got a Data science internship at AB InBev and got elected as the SAC Secretary, and that’s how things sort of came together at the end.
Woah, That was definitely a ton of things all contemporaneous! Here, I would love to know how your journey has been with SAC so far, Explaining the projects you had worked on.
Yeah, some projects were going on when I joined SAC, and I wanted to work to bring them to completion. One of those was Campus Bike Sharing Services, collaborating with Yulu, an e-mobility company, to make intra-campus transportation seamless. When I joined in as a Secretary at SAC, Yulu wasn’t yet implemented, and we had Greenolution prior, but that had been shut down completely. The former D.G. Sec. at SAC had helped me know the progress on the Yulu implementation Project and who were the right people I needed to contact in the administration to bring the project to completion. Some of the steps involved in the implementation process were addressing the concerns of the IITD Administration, creating the pricing plans for Yulu, and forming proposals for IITD Administrations and the Yulu representatives. It was a massive relief for me when Yulu finally got implemented in December 2020, under which several affordable plans are offered for students with zero self-ownership, hassle-free signup, and 24-hour service.
What are the other initiatives that you have been working on presently?
One of the initiatives in progress is the Information cell. The information cell will serve as a one-stop portal for a student, with all their achievements during their stay in IIT conveniently accessible and verifiable, thus increasing ease of access and transparency. You’d have noticed a new tab on the eacads portal named ‘E-certification Report.’ If you visit the tab, you will be able to see all your PORs throughout your IITD journey so far, all at one place there. The idea behind creating this new feature within the eacads portal was to have an advanced version of our old e-certification portal. Here we have tried to tackle the main issues. Firstly, On the prior portal, the PORs mentioned were only the ones the student had held in the institute, but we wanted to extend it beyond that. Hence, the new report one-acads would also include the PORs, achievements, and awards that the student has or had received outside the Institute, in addition to the ones within the institute. Furthermore, all the issues students faced due to the bugs in the previous portal would be eradicated. The information cell would get rid of the bugs, and the PORs would be updated within 48 hrs by notifying the professors. This would also be the means to verify all other achievements that students mention. The verification would help the students as they would be provided with a single document mentioning all their accomplishments so far that would be verified by IITD and can be used by them to apply for various opportunities outside the institute, for example, at a foreign university. This would prevent all the hassle of paperwork and maintaining them all as the student would have the entire document just a download button away. The data is being imported from the previous portal, and we will be working on bringing the new data, which would be information on students’ achievements outside the institute. We are in touch with the Dean of Academics for the same. In addition to that, we also need to set up a process wherein we could go about the verification procedures.
Another initiative that we have been working on is the Project Portal about which even Gaurav (G. Sec., SAC) has talked about in his interview. The portal would make it very easy for students to take up projects and work on them under the guidance of the professors. The portal would be a platform that would streamline the process and make it more consolidated, as the professors would be putting up the projects’ essential details, including the credits provided on completion (if any) and skills required.
Besides this, another tech-based initiative that we are working on is creating a Scholarship portal wherein information about all the scholarships from various organizations or Alumni would be made available for students. The portal would make it easier for students to apply for scholarships by the one-time document upload feature and notifying them about the scholarships they are eligible for.
Furthermore, We also aim to tackle the caste-based and gender-based issues at the institute. We noticed that not many students know the Initiative for Gender Equity and Sensitisation (IGES). IGES aims to create a safe and violence-free educational atmosphere for all, irrespective of diversities in identities of gender, sex, caste, class, ethnicity, language, race, disability, and sexual orientation. IGES also advocates a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment. In case of any gender-based issues, students should feel free to contact IGES, and we want to bring awareness about this by conducting events in collaboration with IGES. Talking about caste-based issues, The constitution of IIT Delhi does not include any actions to be taken dealing with caste-based issues. We, At SAC, are also working on including that in the IITD constitution.
We are also planning to create a SAC Booklet that would make the freshers knowledgeable about the various Boards, their secretaries, and other people they can contact if they need help with any issue.
Tell us a thing that you absolutely love being a part of SAC.
There are many things actually! The first thing I would say out of all is how welcoming everyone at SAC is. Like I could share any idea with any of the SAC Secretaries, they would appreciate it. Everyone is very communicative and result-oriented. We have a fair representation of all sections of our IITD community at SAC, which also explains the diversity within our team. The best thing about having diverse team members is that everyone can offer their own experiences and knowledge that others may not necessarily possess. This also brings in a lot of creativity in addition to the range of ideas to the table. All team members contribute their fair share, they are supportive towards each other, and it is all well organized. This beautiful environment at SAC is one of the huge reasons I never feel my work here is a burden, but instead, I have fun doing it and absolutely enjoy it.
Is there something that would want to change or want should happen differently?
When you ask me this question, there’s this one thing that immediately comes to my mind: the student representation in senate meetings. If you look at the student representation in the senate meeting, it is extremely less. This restricts us from bringing all our issues to the table to address and discuss as just a few students can’t bring up all the concerns about the entire Community. This would actually be something that I would be working on.
Any last message that you would like to convey to our readers?
I would want to say to everyone, especially the students who have onboarded on the campus, is to follow the Covid-19 protocols. I urge all the students to do so, and I want you all to understand that we need you to follow them for your own health. Take Care and Stay Safe!
Interview by: Yamini Vijay Khajekar