Friday, October 9, 2009


Politics. Some reminences from being a student body leader at Rolla. Vamshi, Sanjeev and myself did campaign for this and went from house to house with promises etc. etc. However once we got into the top posts of the President, VP and Secretary respectively we formed our cabinet (Cultural, Sports, Web etc.) and tried to have meetings regularly and the final decisions were usually a consensus among the three of us.

The UMR India Association's work for a particular term was scheduled as Spring Sem (Fresher's Party, Holi, International Student Day, sports), Summer (More sports), Fall (New student pickups, Fresher's Party, Food Festival, dandiya and finally Diwali Night). Mind you this is a non-profit org am talking about over here. These were NOT paid positions.

Of course we bickered a lot n all but still all the events above did get done. This was possible mainly because decisions were made. The UMR India Association was a democratic body no doubt but when it came to making some hard decisions it was mainly on the VP and the Secretary (Our President was on a co-op but still was there when it mattered the most, Diwali Night)

I have long since graduated from Rolla and now am working in Lansing, home of MSU, Michigan State University. There is quite a sizeable Indian student population over here as well so obviously there is an Indian student 'organization' as well.

There is something that is however very weird with the structuring of this. First of all it is a non-profit org, the student cabinet (E-board) is democratic in nature with every member of the cabinet having an equal say. However this leads me to question that tomorrow if there is a misallocation of funds or some university property goes missing during an ISO (Indian Student Org.) event then obviously the president is the one to get pulled up over here to explain this.

However the president is just another member of this cabinet now and does not have any special powers which distinguish that post from the others. So basically, the web-coordinator has just as equal a say in matters as the president. This effectively makes a a mockery of the president's post. Since the president can neither justify commanding authority over the cabinet(democratic) nor can the president standup to a panel to explain misappropriations.

The president should have some powers which distinguish that post from the others. This ensures greater responsibility and accountability from the president as well. This also ensures that come election time the people will want to put someone in charge who they think will do it properly irrespective of the cabinet formation later on.

P.S. The word organization has been specially highlited to ensure that ppl who read this post understand the context behind it. :)

1 comment:

Sanjeev said...

Interesting point of view-but again depends on how much the desi junta cares about the India Association. ppl in Rolla were always keeping tabs on the IA and the committee, so the way we were structured worked out well-or else we'd have the classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Second, look at the scale of events hosted by the India Association anywhere.I doubt if many schools come even close to the magnitude of events UMR IA hosts-you have a lot more responsibility in matters like this-in such cases, you wouldn't necessarily want somebody who may be a good webmaster but not a great organizer to be making crucial decisions for the committee..I guess if a democratic committee works well in one place, it may fail miserably somewhere else. Just my thoughts