The school head denies it but lecturers at NIIT say they are being policed by members of the Student Representative Council to ensure that they start lessons on time. The practice, which lecturers say they were not officially informed of, is said to have started last week. Management is said to prefer use of the Intranet to formal staff meetings.
At the precise time that lectures were supposed to start, an SRC member was going from lecture room to lecture room to ascertain that teaching was in progress. When he chanced upon an unattended class, he reportedly asked students who was supposed to be lecturing to them, noted the information and took it to school management. A few hours later, lecturers who had come late were individually summoned to the office of their supervisor and asked to explain their late coming.
A lecturer at the college says that this practice is going to create severe discipline problems on the part of SRC members as they are being given way too much power than they can neither handle nor use responsibly.
“Given their level of maturity, these students would be inclined to use this power mischievously and for us this is going to create a problem. How can you control students who have quasi-supervisory powers over you? If you teach a student who also gets to police you and without any ill intent, give him low marks, he is going to suspect that you want to get even with him. He is going to come up to you and say, I know you gave me low marks because I reported you to management for coming late. This is really going to drive a wedge between lecturers and students,” the lecturer said.
That may already be happening. On-campus, the SRC fundraising efforts targets lecturers and on Fridays, students wash their cars for a fee. As retaliation for being policed by the SRC, teachers are said to be planning to stop using this service because “the students are biting the hand that feeds them.”
On the other hand, NIIT head Ananth Raja Ram denied that the SRC monitors the attendance of lecturers. To the suggestion that he probably needed to check with his juniors, he insisted that he knew what was happening in his school and that his information was accurate.
“I am very certain,” Ram said.
Interestingly, at the time that he made that denial, some lecturers were reportedly being grilled on their late-coming based on information provided by the SRC. One theory suggested by a source is that management wants to curry favour with the SRC because it is well aware how much power this body has.
Says the source: “If it chooses to, the SRC can call a strike any time it wants and bring negative publicity upon the school. Management does not want that to happen and is ingratiating itself with SRC at the expense of our dignity as lecturers.”
As evidence of how powerful and bold the SRC is, the member who started policing lecturers’ class attendance is said to have taken to hanging in the staff lounge, drinking their tea and chatting with cleaning staff as he lounges familiarly on seats meant for staff.