Student union leaders share their thoughts

What goes into the making of a leader? He/she has the power and the talent to juggle and make all ends meet, but that’s not all it takes. Student council and student union leaders and members in colleges express the need to have an interest and undying passion to be able to make it. From academics to extra-curricular activities, being a manager to being a team member, a leader has to be ready to fit into different shoes. Students who have taken up such positions told The Hindu EducationPlus that it has been fun, but equally testing because of the challenges it involves.

Derin Sara Mathew, third year student and president of the student union at Mount Carmel College

I’ve always liked cultural activities and organising events. Becoming a student union leader gave me a platform to showcase my skills. I didn’t plan to stand for elections, but I used to talk to a lot of people and tell them what ideas I had for the college. It’s important to know a lot of people and make yourself heard. I want to bring back the importance given to cultural activities in colleges.

There has been a deterioration and as a union we want to improve the situation. A leader should not be judgmental, should be down to earth, listen to others and at the same time have his/her own opinion on everything. It’s all about being able to balance and cut out time you usually waste.

Chinnappa B.G., third year student and member of the student council at Christ University

Student council members at Christ University are nominated by the faculty and I was happy when they nominated me because I had been in a leadership role at school. I’ve always wanted to make a difference and this gave me the opportunity to work with the management to organise seminars and camps to give students a multi-dimensional approach to education. I didn’t prepare as such, but it’s important to do well in academics and take part in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, because the teachers are always looking for people who are holistic.

I’d say that there were many times when my schedules clashed but it’s interesting to see how you can manage the pressure and stress when you have so much to do at one time. Being a member of the student council was a reality check because we don’t always understand the perspective of the management when it comes to rules. I learnt how to cope with tension and be a good leader, along with being able to view things from a different perspective.

Chengappa A.D., former joint secretary of the student council at St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science

The college was having an election for the first time after 10 years, this was extremely motivating and I decided that I wanted to be a part of it. We have a common council for the PG and UG sections and I was the only representative from the PG section. I ensured that my academic performance was good along with taking part in a lot of extra-curricular activities so that all the departments would recognise me. It is important to speak to a lot of people and be dedicated.

I was lucky to have a convenient time-table adding to the fact that we discussed council matters only when everyone was free. Being a part of the council taught me how to handle responsibilities and situations and gave me new experiences such as organising protests.

Aditi D’Souza, former vice-president of the student council at St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science

I’ve always been a leader and love to take up responsibility, so standing for student council elections was only natural. I did a lot of campaigning and since I like extra-curricular activities, it gave me the upper hand. I was the conductor of the college choir and I had a great rapport with teachers, college staff and students. I love making friends and it’s very important to know a lot of people, and that helped me win the elections.

It was simple for me because I’ve done it in the past and I knew how to distribute my work wisely. I learnt how to be a leader among leaders, listen to everyone and look at things from different perspectives. Aspiring leaders must try their hand in the student council of their college because the experience is wonderful. It gives you a chance to make mistakes, learn from them, make a difference and be recognised agents of change.

Gayatri Kunte, former president of the student union at Mount Carmel College

Through my first two years in college, I felt that there was a need for change to integrate students of all streams, and standing for election was a result of that thought. All you need is good attendance, grades and discipline, so I filed my nomination. I didn’t take part in a lot of extra-curricular activities but was part of the economics newsletter.

Being the president of the student union in the final year was challenging because our work doubled, but I made sure to find time during lunch and after college and even came in on Saturdays to deal with union matters. We delegated work and met outside college too. Planning and putting in a lot of effort months before big fests helped. There were many challenges, but I learnt to look at the positive side of everything.