Increasing prices in the college canteen? Better facilities at the audio-visual room? Insufficient parking space? What do students do if they want such issues addressed?

Walk straight into their students' union room, to ask their own leaders. It is quite something to wear those badges reading ‘chairperson' or ‘secretary', that make students in their late teens feel responsible, and most importantly, answerable.

While city colleges largely have student-leaders chosen by faculty, a few try and make it more democratic.

Presidency College, for instance, is gearing up for elections to be held in August. College sources said the elections would be held soon after the ongoing postgraduate admissions are completed.

However, students feel that it takes very little time for even those leaders chosen by faculty to be accepted.

President of Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah College (KRMMC) Persis Donbosco says being a leader is not just about responsibility, but also a lot of learning. “In school, we hardly take decisions on our own. But in college, though our professors guide us, there is greater autonomy in decision-making.”

Students could take the initiative, propose ideas to the management and then implement them, says Rashan Sultan, president of Loyola College, where all second and third year students of undergraduate courses, and second year students pursuing their post graduation get to vote and choose their leaders.

“Unlike in school, colleges have students from very diverse socio-economic backgrounds,” he says.

Vice president of KRMMC S. Krishnasaamy says working together as a team is vital. “We have several leaders taking care of different things. The decisions will have to be collectively taken.” The students' council of the college is keen on enhancing the audio-visual room and also developing a cafeteria near the canteen.

John Frankline, chairman of the students' union of Patrician College of Arts and Science, will soon speak to his college management about the pricing at the college canteen.

“Some students feel that it is on the higher side. I will have to ask our management if something can be done about it.”

As Krishnasaamy puts it, one of the main functions of student leaders would be to act as a bridge connecting the management and the students. Another major role played by student-leaders is organising cultural events and college fests. “It is very interesting being involved in organising inter-collegiate contests. The exposure can be very valuable,” says Persis.

For some students, the experience may also nurture dreams of becoming politicians later. “Companies, while recruiting, value students with such experience. I personally see it as an opportunity to learn to be a good leader,” says Rashan, adding that he aspires to become a politician.