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Polls Go Online to Beat Pandemic

As JSJC students chose their representatives through a new process this year,

AISHWARYA SETH gives us the lowdown

The Covid-19 pandemic might keep students away from the Jindal Global University campus, but it cannot prevent the march of democracy. Like classes, elections to the student council also moved online this year.

The process began in the second week of July, with the Election Commission (EC) circulating a Google form on which students could nominate themselves. The posts for which elections were held are president, vice-president, treasurer, general secretary, and class representatives for two batches.

“The process of filing nominations is fairly simple,” said Jasmine, a member of the EC and student of JSJC2018. “Once the students have filled up the form we compile the list and check for eligibility.”

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To be eligible, a student needed to have a grade point average of no less than 6 in the past academic year, get a clean chit from the disciplinary committee, and should not be associated with the student grievance cell (SGRC) .The names were then sent to the Committee of Gender Sensitisation Against Sexual Harassment (COGSASH) for a check.

“Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria have to create their manifestos,” said Jasmine, adding that individual manifestos were also checked by the EC.

The final list of candidates was released by the EC on July 17.

Third-year student Arunasri Maganti — who was JSJC vice-president last year — was the only candidate for the presidential post. She told First Draft that online campaigning was significantly different from how it had been done in the previous years.

“We used to put up posters on campus, hold meet-and-greet sessions. All this is online this year,” she said.

Maganti used Instagram extensively in her campaigning. “I posted videos, memes, and even my manifesto online. I held a meet-and-greet session on Google meets where people asked me questions and my voters had a chance to get to know me better.”

Sattvika Mahajan (JSJC2018) and Ishita (JSJC2018) contested for the post of vice-president. Third-year student Kshitij Kumar Ojha was up against second-year student Kanira Dal for the post of general secretary. JSJC2018 student Shaardhool was being challenged by second-year student Sannjna for the post of cultural secretary.

Three candidates had nominated themselves for treasurer — Karmishta Bhimwal (JSJC2018), Ashish Kumar Shrivastava (JSJC2019), and Harleenn Agarwal (JSJC2019).

Unlike previous years when voters had to take a stroll down the academic block on campus and fill up a ballot box, this time all that will happen on Coll Poll, an application otherwise used by the JGU community for booking the shuttle or other such services.

“We had to get help from the information technology department,” said Sidhant Koshi, a member of the EC. “The good thing is, we don’t need to get additional permission to get ballot boxes and we don’t have to lug these around. We also do not have to book rooms.”

Shaardhool said the online system could go one way or the other. “The whole thing could be more dramatic and competitive than usual, but it would also take away the hype of going to a particular place to case one’s vote.”

Read: Insta-nt campaigning

He added that if students were not reminded of the processes on the day of polling (July 25) there could be a low voter turnout. “It is difficult to predict what will happen.”

Voting took place on July 25 from 9 am to 9 pm. Students voted with three clicks in two booths — one for the core council and the other for class representatives.

Full disclosure: Ashish Kumar Shrivastava, Harleenn Agarwal, Shaardhool, and Satvika Mahajan are editors of First Draft. We do not endorse or oppose their candidature in any way.