by Aggam Walia (UG’22) TW: Sexual harassment The Ashoka University Election Commission announced on Saturday that
By Hanish Srinivasan (MLS ’22)
As the student body wakes to more resignations in their inbox, the Interim Student Government’s strength and future hangs by a thread. The AUEC, in an email shared on 21st August, told the student body that it aims to hold “elections immediately” in order to “mitigate this unprecedented crisis”. While it has not shared any dates concerning the proposed elections, it says that it will be releasing a final proposal soon.
In the email, the AUEC emphasises on designing reforms to bring widespread changes in the current system. However, due to the ISG’s “inability to introduce multiple constitutional amendments” due to its “depleted strength”, the AUEC has decided that it must hold fresh elections immediately. This decision comes after the next five candidates from the 2020-21 elections have said that they would refuse the seat if offered. The AUEC also ruled out the possibility of by-elections as it “does not make sense” to hold special elections for the numerous vacant seats.
The current state of affairs concerning the resignations, weakened government, trust deficit, and need for ad-hoc electoral reforms all point to the erroneous effects of sexual harassment. In the email, the AUEC shared that it has been exploring avenues to navigate the issue of SH via reforms — for instance starting conversations on a House Oversight (Ethics) Committee.
In the works is also a ballot measure that would allow the student body to change the current electoral system. In addition, the AUEC has also recommended expanding the total strength of the house from 15 to 21 in order to circumvent similar exigencies in the future. To further democratise the process, AUEC has floated a form to invite inputs from the student body. As a temporary halt to the crisis, however, the AUEC has requested the ISG to delay further resignations.
Currently, the commission finds itself in a tight corner and is working within its advisory limitations to forge the way forward with the ISG. The student body will be alighted to the next plan of action soon after the AUEC submits a proposal to the ISG on 24th August.
When sexual harassment allegations blew into the scene, resignations from the House of Representatives (HoR) began to roll in and the 7th House came to be dissolved on the 13th of June, 2021. And as such, the Interim Student Government (ISG) came into being as laid down in the Constitution of the Student Government under article 5, section 14. However, uncertainty stares the ISG in its face as the now nine member House threatens to fall below seven following the confirmed resignations of 2 members, including that of the President’s.