Student societies are a quintessential part of Delhi University. DU is a melting pot of cultures, but can the same be said about its societies? This is an attempt at examining student-run societies through the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity) Lens.

Delhi University continues to be known as a hub of academic excellence and scholastic development. Equally popular and beloved is the vibrant extracurriculars and co-curricular scene at the University. The idea of ‘Learning beyond the classroom’ is on the rise, and college student-run societies are the perfect playing ground for students looking to explore diverse passions. Be it the sharp-witted eloquence of Debating Societies, the dynamic hubbub of Dramatics Societies, or the intellectually-stimulating discussions of academic societies, most colleges offer students a wide range of options to choose from.

Delhi University is a popular destination for students from not just all parts of the country but abroad as well. DU is always scoring points for diversity within its student and staff bodies – whether this is tokenistic or empowering remains to be seen. While academic spaces have thrown their doors open for all individuals irrespective of their backgrounds, the same cannot be said about activities outside the classroom. Student-run societies, clubs, and cells are often ridden with elitism, bigotry, and toxicity.

Bade Log Societies

With several societies (numbers going as high as 50+) jostling for space, funds, and popularity within the college, insurmountable hierarchies are established and meaningful change seems improbable. In an already elitist university, some societies project themselves as top-tier owing to their legacy, work, or alumni. The rivalry between newly minted clubs and age-old soc machinery with admin backing is a familiar scene. This essentially pits creative pursuits like dance, drama, or music against co-curricular ones like economics, political science, or consulting. The never-ending battle for supremacy is won semester after semester on metrics like the number of students joining a society or the grandeur of its annual fest.

Despite their goals to be safe spaces for one to explore their passions and interest, entry into these societies is quite similar to the race for meeting the sky-high cut-offs of the ‘dream colleges’ in DU. Starry-eyed freshers flock to orientations that promise them riches in the form of self-development, CV pointers, and a second family. Societies battle for prime-time slots and locations to conduct these orientations – while some can book the air-conditioned seminar hall or provide refreshments (as bribery perhaps), others are stuck discussing their activities in sun-beaten lawns.

Turns out the seminar room was booked two months in advance for orientation by 5-6 societies. We didn’t even know when the new batch would be coming in.

– Secretary of a student club.

Equity – A Level Playing Field?

These societies are characterised by rigorous application processes involving elements like group discussions, personal interviews, research tasks, and auditions. More often than not, those with a certain level of pre-existing expertise in the field have the upper hand. Students from privileged, high-income, English-speaking backgrounds have a clear edge over their peers from marginalised sections. Tier 1 societies in colleges are often crowded with students who had access to private schooling or have connections and money for societies to exploit.

Also, applications often open around the same time, bombarding freshers with countless options and hollow promises. Societies that were set up to provide solace from academic rigour and a space to unwind, end up becoming a key source of frustration. A student’s worth which was earlier measured in marks and percentages is now linked with the societies or extracurriculars they choose to pursue.

I think getting into SRCC was easier than making into its societies. I would rather get 99% in boards than sit through another GD.

– a frustrated first-year from SRCC.


With ‘woke’ culture and progressive and liberal ideas on the rise, these societies are quick to join the bandwagon. Competitions and discussions on topics like women empowerment, queer solidarity, tackling casteism, and body positivity are popular. However, the irony lies when one takes a cursory glance at the organisers of such events – upper class, high-income and privileged. Authentic representation takes a tumble when societies erect entry barriers for minority students.

“Galore – the fashion society, has a narrow view when it comes to selecting candidates – thin, tall, and fair. I find this funny since every event of theirs focuses on body image and body positivity.” – a student of Maitreyi College calls out the double standard of DU Fashion Societies.

The recent transphobia incident at Mark-It, the marketing society Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Student also raised outrage and questions about the lack of queer representation within the society which allowed such an event to transpire.

Even when entry is granted, non-confirming thinkers are ostracised and targeted. Group think and bias are widely prevalent with juniors acting as ‘Yes-Men’ for seniors.

“Debating allows you to express your opinions. However, I was actively discouraged and shunned from putting forward views which went against those of the Society President. This was especially sad seeing that it was a Debsoc.” – a student recounting her time at Trenchant, the English Debating Society, Maitreyi College.

Often students from South-Indian and North-East states have to deal with microaggressions or blatant discrimination from seniors and peers within these societies.

Inclusivity – The Way Ahead

After repeated call-outs and introspection, societies are acknowledging their shortcomings and working towards creating diverse and inclusive spaces. Open societies are such a step where everyone, irrespective of experience is granted entry and collaborative learning is pursued. Proactive changes to the induction and cabinet election processes have done small but meaningful wonders.

We recently had our executive council elections and the council also holds reserved seats for caste and gender minorities. In our soc, we have people from several different backgrounds, even people from non-English medium backgrounds who have unique ideas, and with debating are also honing their English skills

– A First-year member of The Debating Society, DCAC talks about inclusivity within the collegiate debating circuit.

Experiences vary across societies and colleges. Ultimately it is the student body, POR holders, and TICs who can create and incorporate mechanisms to tackle elitism. Age-old restrictive practices need to be done away with and massive structural upheaval is necessary. DU societies should actively reflect the rich diversity of its student body. There is much ground to cover ahead but the power to create sincere change lies with every student interacting with these societies in any capacity.

Featured Image Credits: Dramsoc SRCC Instagram

Read Also: Toxic Culture of DU Societies: Seniors with Junior Mindsets


Bhavya Nayak

[email protected]

Persuasion has always been a fundamental skill set in building corporate rapport. However, just as easily, the lines of persuasion can blur into exaggeration. Is the romanticised representation of your accomplishments ethical or is it a necessary aptitude to survive against corporate homogeneity?

All’s fair in love and war.

This famous proverb, attributed to John Lyly’s Eupheus, dubiously justifies our moral transgressions. In some sense, every one of us experiences a situation resembling a battleground. The perpetual stress and restlessness over the outcome? Check. The constant side glances towards your opponents and likewise updating your strategy and standing? Check. The continuum of sleepless nights and anticipated phone calls from anxious families desperately praying for pleasant news? Unfortunately, college does not spare us the opportunity of escaping from the wrath of war. The student force is compelled to practice the tactics of war in the context of their respective careers and aspirations.

Perhaps, there is no greater battleground in college than the society elections and placement season. The stealthy rivalry consumes every student, regardless of how desperately we wish to maintain symbiotic relations. The tedious application process and the proceeding interviews determine who will continue the legacy and the golden crown of a sparking CV. However, in such an academically rigorous space, the preliminary process that constitutes these selections is eliminative rather than selective. Therefore, a huge emphasis is placed on the interview rounds. A selective verbatim is already memorised by the students appearing for these interviews.

“I am an incredibly passionate and detail-oriented individual…”

“I am a good candidate for this position because…”

“I align myself to the vision of the company and I want to…”

The use of these saturated phrases is often used to project an overenthusiastic zeal for the position. Whether the students are genuinely passionate about the position or if it is just a persuasive mechanism to imitate the idea of interest is where the art of lying takes place. Do interviewers see through this fallacy? In the United States, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) prohibits private employers from conducting lie detector tests. Unfortunately, such a law does not exist in the Indian constitution and let us hope interviewers remain blissfully ignorant of this provision.

The interviewers are also acquainted with this verbatim. They have also developed a skill set to truly extract students who have considerable respect and passion for the position. However, a wide grey area exists where the interviewers may genuinely not have enough understanding to filter out overtly convincing students.

However, the exaggerated interests expressed by the students can be sympathised with. The rat race is an intrinsic part of the culture that dominates interview season and any opportunity to distinguish yourself is far too precious to let go of. To an experienced eye, the repeated exaggerations may appear tedious but the desperation of the students to crack an interview is far too painful to ignore.

People do tend to stretch it a bit when they are interviewing for any position or organisation. The world is so competitive right now. You go on LinkedIn and you see people doing this and doing that and you think ‘What am I doing at this moment?’ So, you want that position at any cost and in order to achieve that, you just end up selling yourself in front of the interviewer. People also do end up lying about a lot of things. I remember this individual didn’t complete an internship and they said that they were a part of that organisation for a month or two, which I think is not ethical enough considering the fact that you need to get an internship certificate for completion. Quantity nowadays is much more valuable than quality. The more and more projects you have under your CV, the more and more chances are there for getting selected for a position

-recounting her experiences of interviewing students, Himasweeta Sarma, the ex-editor-in-chief of DU Beat said

Interviews are an unusual predicament for most students. In Gen Z’s flair of self-deprecating humour, suddenly the opportunity of presenting yourself as a desirable candidate is a humongous challenge. Striking the right balance between self-doubt and arrogance is an incredibly delicate skill set to master. However, in an environment competing with the best of the best, how do you even distinguish yourself and make a difference? Your CV only plays a minimal role in the interview process because various other candidates have credible accomplishments backing up their positions. This is exactly where the idea of presenting yourself as an ideal candidate comes forward. The interview process, in a sense, is a facade of the accomplishments you employed and they are only deemed to be valuable if you present them as so. Persuasion, or glorified manipulation in certain cases, is truly an art form that needs to be mastered to dictate your success. However, in the process of persuasion, the boundaries of accuracy are blurred. Your accomplishments are heavily overestimated in the process, conveying a false sense of capability.

In our college, there is a formula most seniors preach. ‘It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience or expertise or if you think someone deserves this more than you. Tell us why you are the superior candidate and the position is yours,’

Bhavya Nayak, a first-year student from SRCC observed.

On the flip side, the success of your accomplishments may sometimes need to be compromised. Specifically for college societies, interviewers place extremely stringent conditions that are often extremely demanding and strenuous for the candidates. Students often need to underestimate their accomplishments or blatantly disregard their leadership positions during interviews in order to falsely exhibit a commitment towards the position.

In a sense, the interview process may seem futile since the outcome is so heavily influenced by factors beyond our control. It may also raise the question of the validity of such a demanding process. Can you really determine if a candidate is capable of performing the job through a 10-minute, carefully fabricated process? However, an even greater question needs to be addressed. Does it even matter who gets the position if the work is getting done?

The quality of the recruitment process greatly determines how societies will function for the upcoming tenure. In this regard, there are greater implications that arise in terms of how the interviews are carried out. Oftentimes, there exists a wide gap between the expectations held by seniors and the actual result delivered by the newly recruited students.

Especially in societies like the Entrepreneurship Cell and the Placement Cell, they have a big recruitment process with several steps so they try to sift as much as possible. But even through that, something that depends upon college to college, crowd to crowd is that they have a mindset that they need to get more people on board than the quality of the people they are hiring. Because of this reason, the quality of work received by the placement cell, especially in my department, social media content writing, was not up to the mark,”

remarked Aayat Farooqui, a second-year student from Deshbandu College.

On the moral high ground, there are ethical considerations that need to be understood. The recruitment process is often incredibly taxing to both the student and the interviewer. Interviewers have no definite way of knowing the intentions of the interviewers. A student may appear to be enthusiastic about the position because of the spark it lends to their CV. However, the responsibility that comes with these positions are incredibly demanding and students are expected to fulfil their responsibilities in promised ways. If a student is apathetic towards the work, it derails the morale of the workplace and leads to dissatisfaction.

As Benjamin Franklin once famously stated, “Would you persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” The romanticisation of interviews is inherently connected to this notion of persuasion. In a sense, the art of exaggerating is a requisite in surviving today’s competitiveness. However, the illusion of passion should not later become a liability to the ethos of the organisation. The balance needs to be struck. So while you’re nervously shaking for your next interview, just remember to be proud of your accomplishments and grateful for this opportunity, regardless of the outcome.


Image Credits: Sakshi Education

Sri Sidhvi Dindi

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