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27/02/2020 The magazine by Communication Science students of the UvA

FSR 101: A crash course on what the student council does for your student rights

Medium breaks down the influence that the Faculty Student Council of UvA’s Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences has on our community and how you can participate to make a change.


FSR, FMG, CSR? As a student at the University of Amsterdam, you have probably heard of or seen these abbreviations somewhere around campus. And you may also already know that these abbreviations have something to do with the student council. But what is a student council? And how do we students benefit from them? Tag along while we figure out all the important aspects of the FMG Student Council.

FSR? FMG? CSR?

First of all, it is essential to know what FSR-FMG means. FSR is an abbreviation from the Dutch Facultaire Studentenraad that translates into Faculty Student Council. Each faculty has its student council. The College of Communication is part of the FMG faculty, the Dutch abbreviation for  Faculteit Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen, which stands for Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The corresponding FSR represents its faculty in the CSR, which is the Central Student Council, the student council for UvA as a whole. So far, so good, so let’s dig deeper into the importance of FSR-FMG.

“We function as a unit and value everyone’s opinion.” 

Students unite!

The FSR-FMG consists of thirteen members and is made up of two student parties: UvASociaal and De Vrije Student (DVS). To be part of the student council, students have to be a part of a party. Of the eight democratically elected members, 7 of them represent UvASociaal, and one student is a representative of the DVS. The four council assistants remain neutral and do not belong to a respective party. In any case in the student council, party-politics are not allowed to determine the member’s functioning. The council puts this nicely: “We function as a unit and value everyone’s opinion.” 

The rights of the students

As a student of FMG, you have rights and responsibilities. The FSR-FMG is there to protect those rights and other interests. During consultations with the dean, education directors, and other important faculty decision-makers, the FSR-FMG represents all FMG students. However, their endeavors are not limited to advocating solely for the rights of our faculty. The FSR-FMG also advocates for the rights of every UvA student through their delegate at the CSR. Working closely with other representative bodies allows the FSR-FMG to provide solutions to students’ concerns and foster the improvement of our academic environment.

“But what rights and decisions affect me?” I hear you ask. One, for instance, is that you, as a student at the UvA, have the right to quality education and accessibility to it. Because of this, the FSR advocates for a language policy striving to make university information and opportunities accessible for all. Thanks to the FSR-FMG, the university is becoming more and more international! Another example is their participation in making sure that the program for the new bachelor to be introduced in 2021, Humans, Society and Technology, is built with the best interests for students in mind.

You may not notice it in your everyday life. Still, the FSR plays a significant role in the decisions taken by our faculty and the UvA as a whole. The issues they work on vary from student housing to the honors program, in short, everything that may concern students

How does the FSR make our voices heard?

Throughout the academic year, all members of the FSR-FMG work on forming well-based arguments on why and how specific issues in our academic environment should be approached. This is done by collecting data, mainly through surveys and having conversations with faculty members such as program directors, heads of education offices, policy officers, etcetera. This data supports the files on the issues in question. In turn, files are held by either of the two FSR-FMG committees. The committees focus on different themes corresponding to the areas of Organization and Finance or Education and Communication.  

Although some files remain dormant as there is so much to focus on, the files that are the most prominent go through a long way before becoming policy. Most of the FSR delegate’s time is spent on data collection, which is essential to prepare well-based arguments when presenting files to the dean. Data collection is both the initial and crucial phase of a file. Once the data collection is completed, the council discusses their findings and, based on these, vote on a decision. After the votation, files are ready to be presented and hopefully approved by the dean.

How can you participate in decision-making at the UvA?

Now, after all of this chunk of information, you know that despite the bureaucratic process that getting a file to the dean’s hands entails, there is a team of dedicated students who fight for our interests. 

What can you do next? You can partake in the ongoing data collection by the FSR-FMG by completing this survey on student involvement. The main aim of this is to find out to what extent do students from different programs feel at home at UvA and whether they feel there is a sense of community. You can also see their exhibition titled “Let me tell you project” which will have its opening at the A hall of the Roeterseiland campus on Tuesday, February 4th. The artworks in it are created by fellow students who opened up to share personal experiences.

If you think you’ve got FSR material, you’ve got until the 21st of February to apply to be their new secretary. The position starts in April 2020 and you may apply by sending an e-mail with your CV and a motivation letter to fmg@studentenraad.nl.

 

Cover: FSR-FMG. 

Top row from left to right: Tom, Artem, Teun, Michael, and Sid.

Middle row from left to right: Nadya, Robin, and Birgit.

First row from left to right: Viktoriia, Alex, Ana Mar, Minou, and Marc.

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