The Anti-Ragging Committee Is Ready For The Incoming Batch
Anjana Ashok, UG 22
The poster with a dark image painted with the words ‘Ashoka Anti Ragging Committee’, captured the walls of Ashoka, providing a puzzling picturization of the ARC one had as a freshman. It was omnipresent yet never in actual form. Having been formed only over two semesters ago, the ARC is relatively new. “The committee existed before, but it is only now that student representation has been brought in,” said Ayush Kumar, the freshman representative of ARC.
The diminished presence of ARC was not felt much around the campus due to the existence of other established bodies like CASH that took care of sexual harassment cases and CADI that was responsible to handle discriminatory behavior and disciplinary issues. When asked how ARC is different from these bodies, Smiti Mathur, the senior representative responded, “Ragging tends to overlap with the other committees. In order to tackle this issue, the senior members of ARC- Professor Gautam Menon and Ms. Rashmi Singh- speak to the complainant initially. We then try to decide which committee is the most suitable to handle the case.”
Ragging is inherent to an institutional set up. However, the experiences of ragging cannot be homogenized. As a freshman, one enters the campus with aspirations and expectations for one’s own college experience. Helping them adapt to the Ashokan setting by bridging their expectations with the reality, the seniors become the mediators. A senior-junior bond dynamic is created which is not exclusive for freshmen alone. In a setting where this power dynamic exists, the exploitation of the same is inevitable. The presence of ARC acts as a pillar of support, a helping hand, during these times. To provide the feeling of a secured environment, the committee has been planning to familiarize the incoming batch with the procedures. “An ARC representative will be speaking to the freshers at the beginning itself. There will be a session for the parents as well, and a townhall will be held,” explains Ayush. While the laws were framed for the freshmen, the committee has also widened its horizons to accommodate the concerns of the entire student body understanding the complexity of this issue.
Being an official body that seeks to resolve issues amongst students, a student representative becomes the better fit than an authority to open up about one’s issues. Furthermore, by being a liaison with the authorities, the representative also helps in making the committee more accountable. With a simple procedure of just emailing one’s complaint with evidence that remains confidential, the ARC committee envisages to be a free-flowing system. Smiti explains how a lot of grey area exists as it is a new committee. “As complaints come in, the nuances will be covered. It’s a process,” she says. From merely addressing complaints, the committee has decided to expand and include NGOs as of January 2020 which itself is a progress in the right direction.
“Ragging can be very subtle. We come from different backgrounds. It would be good if seniors continue talking to juniors about such things. Conversation can be more fluid, and we can make it an inclusive space,” is the message that Ayush wants put across. Smiti, on the other hand, spoke about his dream for the committee, which was to make the elections more accessible and to make it meaningful rather than a mere popularity contest. With the uncertainties prevailing during these times, the growth of a support body like the ARC will prove instrumental in making the Ashokan setting a more inclusive space for the incoming batch as well as the whole student body.