Entry Service Annual Report 2010-2011
Entry Service Annual
Accountability: The Entry Service is directly acting under and answerable to the Resident Assembly through the Working Committee.
Decision making: The entry service has a mandate to screen applicants - which is a rather daunting task. While there are only 7 of us in the team, we would like to share that a newcomer process involves many people in the community - including the newcomer's contact person, people through service/work or residence or other community activities. Every applicant is held to the same standard, irrespective of his/her origin. All criteria and requirements as listed in the current Admission Policy need to be met by individuals to be accepted as newcomers and later as Resident Aurovilians.
The Entry Service makes all decisions by consensus, but if that is not possible, a decision is made by consent and team members' reservations are noted. All in all, thanks to a great degree of flexibility, and to encourage Auroville's population growth, we have accepted roughly 90 % of the applicants that we have met in a formal advisory interview.
Reasons for refusing an applicant vary. Some people do not fulfil the basic criteria in terms of general understanding the aims and ideals. Some people are merely looking for a pleasant place to retire and/or simply wish to provide an alternative life-style for themselves and family without committing to the community, seeking alternative education for their children or needing to obtain an Entry visa to live in India for lengthy and uninterrupted stays.
On occasions we delay the process of an applicant between 3 to 6 months to give the applicant, our team and the community some time and space to reflect. Rescinding someone's process is the end result of a series of discussions with the concerned person and various working groups. The number of rescind cases that we have had to make is an indication that too many applicants in the past were not screened properly prior to being accepted as newcomers.
As long as we do not have all elements at hand or there is hope that a situation may evolve positively, we delay making a rescind decision. However, when the decision has been made unanimously after a lengthy process, and if the circumstances stay the same and/or no new elements come to light, our decision will remain the same. We then leave it to the community to take it to another level if an individual or a group decides to contest this decision. On two occasions this past year, a final rescind decision made by the Entry Service was challenged by a group of supporters and brought to the attention of a Review Body through the Resident Assembly Service.
Need to review the current mandate:
After having worked with draft 7 for 1 ½ years, our team sees the need to make revisions to the current mandate in conjunction with the Auroville Council. These suggestions, that would have to be approved by the Resident Assembly, have reached the Working Committee and the Auroville Council:
· The formal status of Aurovilian and member of the Resident Assembly could be granted only after a time period of 3 to 5 years. Meanwhile Newcomers become Residents of Auroville. Housing investments can be returned within this time period if the Resident decides to leave or is asked to leave Auroville.
· The process of an Auroville child automatically gaining the status of Aurovilian is questioned. The status of Aurovilian and member of the resident Assembly could be granted in due time when a child of Auroville makes a very conscious choice to become a Resident and an active member of the community and follows a process to be defined.
· The guidelines of Friend of Auroville need further reviewing.
· The guidelines of Associates of Auroville need to be completed. For those employees who do not satisfy the requirements to become an Aurovilian, Associates will be integrated employees who will have some rights – still to be defined – in our community without them having to give up their employee rights, traditional life style and beliefs.
· The status of Partners and Relatives needs to be fully reviewed.
Orientation Programs for newcomers:
Two separate Newcomer Orientation programs have successfully been running over the past 18 months. The purpose of these programs is to ensure a smooth integration of new people wanting to become Newcomers. It plays a significant part in providing the needed background to aspiring applicants and newcomers already in an Entry process.
The Tamil Orientation Programs: These programs, held in Tamil language only, are especially for our Tamil-speaking population. It takes place one Saturday morning each month. The subjects range from very practical issues to more subtle topics. Since July 2010 , approximately 30 participants gather at different locations in Auroville monthly.
The Newcomer Orientation Program : This program is run by Sonja, Rakhal and Shivaya and lasts five full days. The program focuses on the participants themselves: formation of the group, fostering of the relations between the participants, particularity of individual commitment and contribution toward Auroville. The feedback from participants is impressively positive and our team has made this Newcomer Orientation Program part of the Entry process for all newcomers, irrespective of their background.
Newcomers for Newcomers program: After having an excellent start in 2009 with monthly events that were attended by an average of 30 newcomers, this program promoting knowledge and integration went through ups and downs in 2010. Events were fewer and not as well attended. However, it has recently regained much popularity thanks to the active participation of the assistance of the Unity Pavilion team.
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