Campus Crunch

Senior-Junior Interaction

By Sonali Garg, Batch of 2016

An amalgam of the effervescence of youth and trepidation of the unknown with innumerable trajectories that open up in college, eventuates that many students end up feeling lost. The metamorphosis from school to college is rife with bottlenecks and can be extremely daunting in the absence of proper guidance. This is where the ‘Senior gyaan’ kicks in.

Who is a senior?

A person, who is always willing to lend a hand, be it regard- ing academics or extracurricular activities. Seniors play the dual role of a friend and a mentor. They are the people who have been in your very shoes recently, ergo can empathize with your conundrums. They counsel you on what to study, how to study, projects to take up, internship opportuni- ties, higher studies, plain old personal problems and the list goes on. They are an invaluable resource of relevant in- formation. Yet, there has been attenuation in this relation- ship. So, why is the senior junior nexus at N.S.I.T. ebbing away? How has it impacted the students over the years? What could be the possible mitigation measures?

Factors contributing to the issue:

  • The numero uno reason is perhaps the lack of hostel culture in NSIT. With an 85% quota for Delhiites, day scholars make up the majority of the student popula- tion. Also, all years have separate hostels (for boys). The Delhiite girls have to toil to even get rooms and currently, the second years are sequestered. Consequently, interaction opportunities get restricted.
  • There are a limited number of events or platforms that require students across different batches to work together. While the fests provide such cultural or techno-managerial platform, their quality has degraded over the years and subsequently, less people volunteer and participate in them. There is also a dearth of inter-batch projects or academic collaborations at NSIT.
  • The co-curricular culture at NSIT leaves little room for intermingling of seniors and juniors. While different societies promote different interests and bring together like- minded people, most of them are hardly active or active only at certain points over the course of the year.
  • In the absence of ragging, there is a paucity of alternate icebreakers, especially during the freshers’ week. There is an orientation where freshers are briefed, but it is often relegated to just being a way to promote the various societies.
  • Another major reason is the change in mindset and attitude of the students. A goal oriented approach – getting internships, placements, cracking CAT, GRE etc. – and singularly focused preparation leaves them with little time to interact with seniors as well as juniors and work together on new ideas, projects etc..

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The impact

The significance of inter-batch dialogue cannot be overstated, especially in the face of an ancient syllabus and non- permanent faculty having limited accountability. The dwindling of senior- junior interactions has already led to some baleful upshots. Students are not even cognizant of all the avenues they can venture into. Today, fewer students go for foreign internships, higher studies abroad simply because they are not aware of the opportunities that exist, the procedures that need to be followed .They have to struggle to find out basic details that should automatically have been passed down the years. Fests, that were once the pride of NSIT, now reek of mediocrity. The abysmal state of the senior junior nexus has played a major role in bringing down the level of fests. Earlier, juniors would volunteer for and be involved in the fests at various levels simply out of the respect they held for their seniors. Ergo, they were well aware of the difficulties faced in organizing a fest and the remedies. Hence, the fests maintained a standard. Now, in the absence of proper counsel and prior experience, even the most trivial issues seem inexpugnable.

What further needs to be understood is that most of the issues mentioned are not straightforward. Rather, they are vicious circles that compound over time. As an example, consider the deteriorating quality of fests as a result of lack of senior-junior coordination. This leads to less participation. Fests, which were a platform that strengthened the senior-junior relation, are no longer an effective medium, and hence the interaction decreases further and the cycle goes on.

Some plausible mitigation measures:

  • In the current scenario, it is incumbent to encourage inter- hostel activities. Inter-hostel cultural or sporting events or competitions could be organized to boost communication across the batches.
  • Student initiatives like the student mentorship programs in IITs and NITs, where each fresher is assigned a senior mentor need to be explored. The mentor makes sure that the fresher’s transition from school to college life is smooth and he/she can take informed decisions in his/her college life. The mentor also helps the student in analyzing the various career options with his/her guidance. Academic collaborations across the years should be perused.
  • There is a dire need for a stronger co-curricular culture. It is not a question of having more societies. Participation and this participation being promoted, is the need of the hour. Societies provide a platform for students across different batches to bond over common interests and thus, are a great way to get the ball rolling towards these interactions.
  • Stronger initiatives on the part of seniors, especially during the freshers’ week are necessary. Seniors could make it a point to brief the juniors regarding college life and academics, and not just promote certain societies. This will imbue a sense of comrade and act as a stepping- stone to a healthy senior-junior relationship. Unless these measures are taken, the footing is only going to worsen progressively. Only a cumulative effort on part of the administration, seniors, and juniors can turn the tables and restore the essential synergy.

Student Opinion

Monadhika Sharma, Batch of 2012Monadhika Sharma, Batch of 2012

When we were juniors, our seniors used to rag us a lot in the hostel or in the college (nothing unpleasant, very friendly). We always took it in our stride and never really got offended. The trend changed after our second year when we signed an affidavit against ragging. That year a couple of juniors dissed some of our friends over the “affidavit” when they asked for a simple “Intro”, something which I think works as an Ice-Breaker. We were also debarred from entering our juniors’ classrooms which further reduced the opportunities for interaction. As a result there was almost zero interaction between juniors and seniors and the price of this was paid by the juniors only. This is also the reason for the declining standard of the fests in NSIT over the years. So, I think that everything boils down to this one thing – the enthusiasm to make a difference. In our time there were many students who were really passionate about many societies and most of them were very active, and it was a great place to connect with seniors. I have made the best of my friends in the seniors through such societies.

Naina Mehta, Batch of 2016Naina Mehta, Batch of 2016

I think that the senior junior interaction at N.S.I.T. is extremely confined. If you are a part of some society and get along well with the seniors there, then they can guide you. Otherwise, the interaction is just superficial. It was only when I entered my second year and started contemplating my future seriously that I realised how important this guidance was.

Vijaylaxmi Pal, Batch of 2017Vijaylaxmi Pal, Batch of 2017

The picture I had in my mind: I knew ragging was banned but ‘healthy’ (mostly one-sided) interactions between the seniors and juniors existed. I expected that a bunch of random ‘cool’ seniors would make me dance in the middle of the college canteen in a totally Bollywood way. But thankfully, real life doesn’t work the reel way. What the scenario turned out to be: Surprisingly, the first day was devoid of seniors, both in college and the hostel. Also, the ones we did run into were suspiciously polite (passes to the unofficial freshers being their ulterior motive). Everyday meant an audition for a new society. Furthermore, getting associated with one meant more ‘healthy’ interaction with the seniors.