26 Nov Special report II: infiltrating the Faculty Student Council
In the first special report about the Faculty Student Council I explained where democratic student representation in the Faculty Board started and how it’s organised. This time we are going to dig deeper into the lives of our representatives. What do they do? Are these people functional? Does the Faculty Student Council keep any secrets from us? Double agent WTFJohnny is about to tell you, let’s infiltrate the Student Council.
A day in the life of your representatives
Hurray, it’s Tuesday! Every Tuesday, the Student Council of the Faculty of Science meets between 18.00 and 20.00 to discuss developments and current dossiers (think about stuff like Master Selection Procedures, Bring your own Device policy, UvA-VU cooperation or specifications for honours modules). Some of the dossiers are my responsibility, but fortunately we divided the dossiers in eight task forces to spread the pressure. My task forces are legislation and finance/IT. In total the student council has twelve members. In the morning (around 10:00) I usually check my mailbox in the Student Council room (A1.26). Today I find the agenda of tonight’s meeting.
So, what’s going to be discussed tonight? Evaluation of the IO (informal discussion between the student council and the Faculty Board), some stuff about legislation which is too boring to explain, suggestions for next month’s Students Forum and an event to invite people for social drinks to meet the student council. Today I have to prepare my opinion about these subjects. This takes roughly one or two hours, depending on the difficulty of the subject.
Meanwhile I am working on a longer-term project that reflects on the selection procedures of Master’s programmes. I have to gather information and opinions about this selection procedure to identify problems. This is an ongoing project and today I have a meeting with the director of the Graduate School for Life and Earth Sciences (GSLES) to discuss these matters.
Later today, I am having lunch with a couple of the council members, just because we became good friends. Working as a representative of students from the Faculty of Science takes roughly 12 hours a week. Pretty quickly we start discussing politics (even if we don’t have to ;)). In such informal discussions everything is discussed, from central UvA policies to Dutch education policy in general. Like old men in pubs we are complaining about everything. I think that it’s fair to say that all council members love politics in general and enjoy being students of this faculty.
Of course, tonight at 18:00 our meeting starts. I won’t elaborate on the subjects any further because you can read our record of proceedings on our webpage! I am sorry, they should be updated more often. By the way, you can always send us an e-mail if you have a specific question.
So are these people functional or do they keep any secrets from us? Functional? Perhaps, they seem quite busy with abstract projects and discussing matters. Do they have any secrets? No, the Faculty Student Council aims to be transparent and their door is always open. Most of them wear a purple sweater, just ask them whatever you want!
How to become a member of the student council?
Perhaps you feel inspired to join the Student Council. Becoming a representative of students of the faculty or the university as a whole is fairly easy, but it’s a time-consuming process. It all starts in March/April. During these months candidates are sought for the Student Council for the following year. Let’s construct an overview of all the steps!
- Find a student party. Three student parties exist at the Faculty of Science: LIEF, Mei and UvASociaal. Everyone is allowed to propose himself or herself as a candidate for a student party. As far as I know, we have never had an English speaking student in the Faculty Student Council, but it’s time for a change, isn’t it?
- As a member of a student party, you need some kind of party programme. Of course you don’t have to construct a party program out of the blue without any help. Together with your fellow Faculty Student Council candidates you are guided through the process. As the party programme slowly appears, it’s time to think about how you could present your programme to your fellow students.
- It’s time for the elections where you present your party programme with playful or more serious activities. Of course the other student parties are trying to ‘steal’ your votes, so you have to be creative. Only twelve spots are available!
- For those who are among the happy few, the introduction period starts during the last weeks of the summer vacation. It’s the task of the former student council to hand over all necessary information to the new generation of student representatives. The new generation is responsible for getting acquainted with the influential people in the Faculty of Science. The first weeks can be summarised as: learn, read and meet.
Life can be hard and overwhelming during the first weeks, but sooner or later the fog disappears and blue skies appear. One thing must be clear; it’s a unique chance to develop new, cool skills and to make a difference for the students of our faculty and to meet fantastic new people. I love being a Student Council member and I love to write secret reports about the Student Council. We’ll keep you updated!
By the way, of course the Student Council is created for all of you. So if you have a question, a problem or a suggestion, we might be able to help you. Please visit us in our room A1.26, the door is (nearly) always open. And if you have any questions about the things you read in this blogpost, leave a message in the comment section.
Bye for now,
WTFjohnny or WTF007